Marcelo Bielsa’s decision to leave out Illan Meslier at the end of the season was ‘really harsh’, according to former Leeds United striker Noel Whelan.
The Lowdown: Meslier left out by Bielsa
The Whites goalkeeper was one of his side’s outstanding players in 2020/21, starting 35 Premier League games and playing a key role in them finishing in ninth place.
Meslier was axed for Leeds’ final two matches of 2020/21, however, with Kiko Casilla starting against both Southampton and West Brom.
The Latest: Whelan unhappy with decision
It seemed a slightly baffling decision by Bielsa, considering what a consistent player the Frenchman has been throughout the campaign, and someone who wasn’t impressed was Whelan.
He told Football Insider that it felt needless on the manager’s part:
“Meslier deserved to play, there is absolutely no doubt about that in my mind. It is really harsh on him to not get to play in front of the fans after the season he has had. He’s been brilliant.
“Bielsa will have sat down and spoken to him regarding the decision before the game. He is a level-headed player so I think he will have taken it on the chin and moved on.
“I hope he understood Bielsa’s reasoning for leaving him out, whatever they were.”
The Verdict: Water under the bridge
There is unlikely to be any great issue between Bielsa and Meslier, so this is more than likely something that has been blown out of proportion.
That being said, it made little sense to take out such a key player at the end of the campaign, especially when European football wasn’t completely out of the question.
Leeds won both games, of course, so Bielsa will feel vindicated in his decision, but the greater worry may be the exit links that have emerged for the young Frenchman in the past few months, which are bound to intensify with the summer window now looming.
In other news, one Leeds player has been tipped to leave the club this summer – find out who it is here.
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