By Darren Bent

13th Jan, 2021 | 8:30pm

Exclusive: Leeds youngster tipped for greatness by top pundit

Illan Meslier has struggled for Leeds United at times this season but that doesn’t mean he won’t be a great goalkeeper — just look at David De Gea. 

That is the comparison made by ex-Premier League goalscorer Darren Bent, speaking exclusively to Football Insider correspondent Russell Edge after the 20-year-old’s haphazard performance against Spurs.

Meslier — who signed for Leeds for a fee in the region of £5million in the summer after spending the season on loan at Elland Road in 2019-20 — has proven himself capable of brilliance and blunders in equal measure throughout this campaign.

But Bent believes young goalkeepers new to the Premier League should be afforded the occasional slip-up and that the 6ft 6in shot-stopper has shown enough to justify Marcelo Bielsa’s continued faith in him.

Asked if Meslier can be a great keeper, Bent told Football Insider: “He’s a young goalkeeper, he’s only 20. We’ve all seen it, when young goalkeepers come to the Premier League, they wobble a little bit at the start.

“Look at De Gea, he had a big wobble when he went to United. Kepa’s still wobbling. Even Courtois, he didn’t really hit the ground running.

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“So I think it happens to all young goalkeepers. They’ve got to go through a period where it’s a little bit tough for them. But he’s a good goalkeeper and he’s shown at times how good he can be this season.

“So you’ve got to give him a little bit of time to grow. It’s better that he’s getting it out of the way now.

“The aim is to get past the wobbly stage and don’t look back. But all goalkeepers have periods of inconsistency.”

In 2019-20, Meslier played second fiddle to Kiko Casilla between the sticks.

But this season, the Frenchman has firmly established himself as the first-choice goalkeeper, starting 16 of Leeds’ opening 17 Premier League matches.

In other news, a top pundit and boyhood Leeds United fan has vented his frustration over the club’s academy situation.