Leeds United goalkeeper Illan Meslier has revealed that he turned down a chance to join Chelsea back in 2018 when he was still at Lorient.
Speaking to The Athletic, Leeds United youngster Illan Meslier has made a surprise revelation that Chelsea had tried to sign him when he was still at previous club Lorient, but he rejected the Blues approach.
A product of the Lorient youth academy, the 21-year-old Meslier made quite rapid strides during his time with the French club, making his senior debut for them in September 2018, aged just 18. One year and 29 more first-team appearances later, he moved to England, joining Leeds United on a season-long loan deal.
Meslier went on to play a key role for Leeds in the second half of the 2019/20 season to help the Whites return to the Premier League after a long wait of 16 years. Soon after that, the French starlet was signed on a permanent transfer by the Yorkshire outfit and he enjoyed an impressive debut campaign in the English top-flight last time out.
However, if things had gone in a different way, Meslier could have made his Premier League debut much earlier. Indeed, the 21-year-old has now revealed that English bigwigs Chelsea had made a play to sign him back in the summer of 2018, with Lorient also accepting the Blues offer.
But, Meslier turned down a move to west London as it had come too late in the transfer window and he was not convinced over his first-team prospects should he make the move to Chelsea.
“Chelsea agreed with Lorient and then asked me, ‘Are you ready?’ But it was 24 hours before the end of the window. I said, ‘No, it’s too late, man! If you’d come one or two weeks earlier then I might have said yes. I can’t sign for you so late’. It was a difficult decision. Chelsea are a big club. You would ask me, ‘Why not [go]?’. But there are lots of keepers in Chelsea’s academy,” he said.
“It’s very hard to grow up there and sometimes you sign and you have to go on loan, things like that. It’s better, I think, to work in your club and then sign to be a No 1 at 24, 25. Not at 18 years old.”
It is interesting that Chelsea made a move for Meslier in 2018. It was the same transfer window when the Blues lost Thibaut Courtois to Real Madrid and splashed a world-record fee for a goalkeeper to secure the services of Kepa Arrizabalaga from Athletic Bilbao.