I was scared at certain training sessions in France. The goalkeepers would box. Petkovic took a punch… there was a lot of blood – The Athletic


There’s a photo of Illan Meslier, taken at Everton last season, which the keeper appears to be levitating on.

He’s level and about 12 inches off the ground, his extended left hand hovering over the ball. Her bright orange kit completes the entire Shaolin Monk look.

Meslier is adept at defying gravity, despite his monumental size.

Last season he was the youngest goalkeeper in Europe’s top five leagues to make more than 10 starts, and the first since the competition’s inaugural year 1992-93 to make 25 in the Premier League before his 21st birthday. It’s a rare breed in the goaltending fraternity, where old enough sometimes means pretty good.

In Europe, when it comes to aging, he is closely followed by Gianluigi Donnarumma, the supremely confident Italian who is a role model for Meslier.

Donnarumma was a No.1 teenager at AC Milan and, at 22, became a European Championship winner with Italy last month after saving two England penalties in the decisive final shootout . It has been a few weeks in a new life at Paris Saint-Germain and in the midst of their discussions with him, the French club have also taken a discreet interest in Meslier. The two men become real football stars.

When Meslier watches Donnarumma, he sees not only the skills of an exceptional goalkeeper, but also the self-confidence without which a player in his position cannot thrive.

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