Leeds United chief Marcelo Bielsa reveals belief in Illan Meslier if Kiko Casilla is banned

Illan Meslier has met Marcelo Bielsa’s expectations to make himself Leeds United’s back-up plan should Kiko Casilla be banned by the FA over racism allegations.

Kiko Casilla. (Picture: Bruce Rollinson)

The Whites are still awaiting the verdict of Casilla’s hearing but Bielsa is confident that, should his No 1 goalkeeper be rendered unavailable through suspension, he has an adequate replacement waiting in the wings.

The hearing into allegations that Casilla made a racist remark towards Jonathan Leko during Leeds’ game at Charlton back in September, began in London yesterday.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Back at Thorp Arch, Bielsa confirmed that Leeds were prepared to adapt, if necessary. He said: “It’s a situation we have to resolve. It’s correct we adapt ourselves [to] the way they decide to resolve this situation.”

Back-up plan: Leeds United goalkeeper Illan Meslier (Picture: Bruce Rollinson)

According to Bielsa, the Spanish goalkeeper’s behaviour this week in the lead-up to his hearing was ‘absolutely normal’. But Leeds could find themselves without his services for six games, should the disciplinary panel find against him. The Whites’ resolution to the potential problem is Meslier, a French 19-year-old, who joined United on a loan deal last summer from Ligue 2 outfit Lorient and has done what has been required of him in Under-23s action and his single first-team appearance – in the FA Cup at Arsenal – to put himself in the frame.

“Meslier is the option if Kiko doesn’t play,” said Bielsa. “In this situation or in others. When he plays his direction has been in line with our expectations.”

Bielsa recently revealed just how highly he rates Meslier, when discussing the form of Casilla and what formed the head coach’s decision making process over Casilla and his starting place, after some high profile mistakes.

The former Real Madrid man was backed to stay in goal by Bielsa because he retained the confidence of his fellow first-team members, not because there was a lack of an attractive alternative option in the squad.

On Meslier, Bielsa said: “For a long time I didn’t see a young player with resources like him.”