Leeds signing this 19-year-old Arsenal starlet would be a wasteful move and here’s why


Why Leeds United should avoid signing James Hillson

According to a report from Football Insider (h/t Leeds Live), Leeds United have approached Arsenal over the possibility of signing young goalkeeper James Hillson. The 19-year-old is set to be handed a new contract by the Gunners before being loaned out next season. Leeds have already launched an attempt to secure his signing.

The 19-year-old Hillson came through the youth ranks at Reading. After a short stint on loan at Salisbury, the goalkeeper joined the Arsenal U18 setup, initially on loan, before making the transfer permanent last summer.

Since joining the club, Hillson has featured just two times each for Arsenal’s U18 team as well as the U23 side. The teenager has conceded 9 goals in total, failing to secure a single clean sheet.

James Hillson
James Hillson in a training session (Getty Images)

Leeds United’s goalkeeping situation

Marcelo Bielsa’s side boast of the best defensive record in the English second-tier. The Whites have conceded just 30 goals, keeping 17 clean sheets in the process, the most by any team in the Championship.

First-choice goalkeeper Kiko Casilla had been brilliant for the majority of the campaign before his controversial antics earned him an 8-game ban. The 33-year-old has kept 15 clean sheets in the Championship this term.

Leeds United back-up goalkeeper Ilan Meslier applauds the crowd after his side's victory in the league.
Illan Meslier applauds the crowd after a game. (Getty Images)

In his absence, on-loan goalkeeper Illan Meslier has stepped up to the plate, keeping two clean sheets in his two league appearances. Leeds are planning to make his transfer permanent at the end of the season.

Furthermore, they also brought in teenage goalkeeper Elia Caprile in January. So bringing in another young custodian in the form of Hillson doesn’t make much sense for Bielsa & co.

It is true that Casilla is attracting interest from Spain. Should he end up leaving in the summer, Leeds must target a more experienced campaigner to replace him and not a raw teenager like Hillson who has less than 20 appearances at the U18 level so far (Reading and Arsenal combined).

James Hillson in action for Arsenal U23 (Getty Images)
James Hillson in action for Arsenal U23 (Getty Images)

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As things stand, Leeds have their goalkeeping department sorted, with Illan Meslier’s transfer set to be made permanent. They would have two young shot-stoppers in Meslier and Caprile to complement senior pro, Casilla. So, there doesn’t seem to be a need for bringing in Hillson from Arsenal as things stand.