Noel Whelan believes Leeds United will be targeting a new first-choice goalkeeper this summer if they are promoted to the Premier League.
The former Leeds striker and boyhood fan at Elland Road, speaking exclusively to Football Insider assistant editor Russell Edge, admits Illan Meslier may need a few more years before he is ready to play regular top-flight football.
As revealed exclusively by Football Insider, the Whites are looking to trigger the £5million purchase clause in the 20-year-old’s loan deal regardless of whether they earn promotion.
However, it is understood that the Coronavirus pandemic has thrown the club’s transfer plans into the air.
Having already stated that he is expecting mainstay Kiko Casilla to be among the first names out the door this summer, Whelan believes a new goalkeeper will be a priority target for Marcelo Bielsa.
Asked about Meslier’s capabilities, Whelan told Football Insider: “Look, Lorient is not a bigger club than Leeds United, when a club like that comes calling you’ve got to go.
“Saying that, will he be our first choice next year if we are in the Premier League? I don’t think he will be. I think we’ll be looking for a more experienced goalkeeper, one that he can learn from.
“Can he step up to that mark of Premier League football if we’re there? If not, can he nail down a permanent first-team spot. That’s his challenge.
“If we do go up I think we’ll look for a more complete, more established goalkeeper right now because I think we’ll need that but he’ll definitely be the number two there, without a shadow of a doubt.”
Meslier has been a regular member of the Whites’ first-team squad this season and played in the club’s last two Championship fixtures in place of the suspended Casilla.
He has a total of three games under his belt at Elland Road after making his debut in the FA Cup against Arsenal.
In other Leeds United news, Alex Bruce believes a senior star will have his head turned by a “huge” move this summer.