Pundit Watch

Former England international makes World Cup selection claim involving Leeds United and West Ham players

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Leeds United goalkeeper Illan Meslier should have been included in France’s World Cup squad ahead of West Ham‘s Alphonse Areola.

That’s according to former England number one Paul Robinson, who believes France’s current options do not provide any competition for their current first choice ‘keeper, Hugo Lloris.

While Meslier is yet to make his senior international debut for France, he has been a regular for Leeds in the Premier League for the past two-and-a-half seasons.

Areola meanwhile, has five caps for France to his name, but has made just three Premier League appearances since joining the Hammers in the summer of 2021, playing backup to Lukasz Fabianski.

But with Milan’s Mike Maignan injured, it is Areola and 37-year-old Steve Mandanda, who have been named as France’s other two ‘keepers for the squad, behind Lloris.

Now however, it seems Robinson, who won 41 caps for England between 2003 and 2007, believes that Meslier has been hard done by to miss out on a place in the side.

Speaking about France’s goalkeeping options for the World Cup in a clip on Stadium Astro’s YouTube channel, the former Leeds ‘keeper said: “I look at the two goalkeepers on the bench [for France], [Alphonse] Areola and [Steve] Mandanda.

“[Lloris’] has got no competition in that squad whatsoever. Those two goalkeepers are not good enough to challenge him whatsoever. For me, Meslier at Leeds should be in that squad. He’s good enough.

“Areola has hardly played this season, Meslier could come in, he would challenge Lloris as a number one I think.”

Admittedly, there may be some suggestions of bias given his Leeds connections, but it does feel as though Robinson may have a point here.

Meslier’s performances for Leeds suggest he is deserving of a place in the French squad, while by contrast, Areola hasn’t been able to really show what he can do at West Ham for quite some time.

While Mandanda has been a very good goalkeeper for many years now, at his age it is unlikely he will be at the next World Cup in 2026.

As a result, there may also have been an argument to take the 22-year-old Meslier ahead of him, to get him some all important international squad and tournament experience, when looking to the future.

Should Meslier be at the World Cup?

Yes

Yes

No

No

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UCLan Sports Journalism graduate. Have been working for Leeds All Over since summer 2020, and can only be found writing on Football League World.