Illan Meslier has been hailed by Marcelo Bielsa for the strength of character the young Leeds United goalkeeper has displayed in his first season in the Premier League.
Leeds play at West Ham on Monday evening hoping to end their nightmare run of form under Bielsa in the capital. United have won just one of their 24 visits to London under the Argentinian, having lost a staggering 17 times. That includes defeats at Crystal Palace, Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham this season alone.
Leeds have also shipped more goals than every side bar bottom pair West Brom and Sheffield United. That has seen Meslier, 21 last week, face some heavy criticism.
But the Frenchman has also kept eight clean sheets – he broke Joe Hart’s 14-year-old top-flight record last month for a goalkeeper under the age of 21 – and Bielsa has been impressed.
“He’s a player with personality and character and he still has the margin to improve,” Leeds’ head coach said.
“But what he has shown in the season so far qualifies as a good season.
“Not only because he is young, even if he was 30 years old he would still be graded very well.”
Indeed, Meslier has come up with some big saves this season and has been mentioned as a target for Monday’s opponents.
Leeds have lost four of their last six league games, and face a tough test against rejuvenated Chelsea on Saturday.