Lorient manager Christophe Pelissier has suggested that by joining Leeds United in the summer, goalkeeper Illan Meslier was running away from the challenge of competing for the number one jersey at the French club.
The teenager joined the Whites on a season-long loan on transfer deadline day, in a deal that reportedly includes an option to buy.
The Frenchman was brought in as Bailey Peacock-Farrell’s replacement, after the Irishman joined Burnley in the summer, and has served as Kiko Casilla’s back up so far.
Meslier is yet to make a senior appearance for the Whites but has featured for Carlos Corberan’s U23s.
The shot-stopper made his senior debut for Lorient at the start of last season and went on to make a total of 28 appearances for the Ligue 2 side, keeping nine clean sheets.
Speaking to Le Telegramme, Pelissier provided his verdict on the teenager’s decision to move to Elland Road.
He said: “Like Julien Ponceau, they are young professionals who did not experience too many difficulties in their early career. Illan, I think, quickly became number two, then number one.
“He made a very good start before having a more delicate end to the season. I think at his age he had every interest in staying here, working with a very good goalkeeper coach and a very good number one goalkeeper.
“For me, he would have progressed. Especially since this is the first time I had given a second-choice keeper the assurance to play the Coupe de la Ligue and the Coupe de France. Which I never do.
He added: “Yes (I was surprised by Meslier’s move) Because for me, in the face of the obstacle, there are two types of attitude, confronting or bypassing it. He has bypassed it.
“Perhaps he is right, we will see the rest of his career. But as a coach, I was surprised and disappointed.”
With Casilla in goal, Leeds have conceded the fewest goals in the Championship this season and are fifth in the table–two points behind league leaders West Bromwich Albion.
You can understand Pelissier’s frustration having seen a young, promising keeper move on transfer deadline day and not feature at all for Leeds.
He appears to be having a dig at Meslier and implying by moving to Leeds he is running away from the challenge of competing for the number one jersey at Lorient.
That seems a bit harsh but if the teenager does not end up featuring for Leeds this season and the club doesn’t opt to sign him permanently in the summer then he may look upon the decision as a mistake.