The Blues wanted to snap up the young shot-stopper while he was still in his native France, but he didn’t quite like the timing of their approach.
Leeds United goalkeeper Illan Meslier reveals he turned down a chance to join Chelsea in 2018 due to the fact they approached him very late – just “24 hours before the end of the [transfer] window”.
A year later after spurning Chelsea, Meslier decided to move to Leeds United on a season-long loan deal from FC Lorient.
The Frenchman was quick to make an impact, showing great promise in their Championship-winning campaign before firmly establishing himself as the club’s No.1 in their first season in the Premier League since 2004.
“Chelsea agreed with Lorient and then asked me, ‘Are you ready?’,” Meslier recalled in an interview with The Athletic.
“But it was 24 hours before the end of the window. I said, ‘No, it’s too late, man! If you’d come one or two weeks earlier then I might have said yes. I can’t sign for you so late’.
“It was a difficult decision. Chelsea are a big club. You would ask me, ‘Why not [go]?’.
“But there are lots of keepers in Chelsea’s academy. It’s very hard to grow up there and sometimes you sign and you have to go on loan, things like that.
“It’s better, I think, to work in your club and then sign to be a No 1 at 24, 25. Not at 18 years old.”