WHO: Edouard Mendy
FROM WHERE: Rennes
TO WHERE: Chelsea
FOR HOW MUCH: £25m ($32m)
GRADE FOR CHELSEA: B
GRADE FOR RENNES: B+
Chelsea’s summer spending spree keeps on rolling and they’ve finally filled one of the most important gaps in the team. After Kepa Arizzabalaga’s continued disasters in goal, Frank Lampard has finally secured the signing of an experienced yet relatively unknown goalkeeper in Edouard Mendy.
The former Rennes No.1 has been one of the most consistent performances in Ligue 1 in recent years & is quite the opposite from the ‘blockbuster signings’ they’ve made this summer. He’s down to earth, focused on the job & a pretty reliable person in between the sticks. As Chelsea hope to improve their dismal defensive record from last season, Mendy could prove to be the most cunning signing from a lavish summer transfer window.
WHO IS HE?
A Senegalese international born and brought up in France, Mendy has played in just about every division of football in the league. He started off in the fifth tier of France’s soccer leagues with AS Cherbourg before playing for Ligue 1 side Marseille B.
Mendy got his big break at Reims FC, whom he helped win Ligue 2 & earn promotion into the top league. He started excelling at top-flight side Rennes, making 24 appearances for them last season. Mendy has also made 8 appearances for Senegal & featured in their impressive African Cup of Nations finals’ finish last year.
IS THE PRICE FAIR?
Let’s point out the differences here. Mendy has been signed by Chelsea for nearly 1/4th of what they paid for Kepa. Can he possibly be any worse than the Spaniard? We doubt it.
Taking a gamble on a player with exclusively Ligue 1 experience for around $25m is just about worth it. The 6’6’ goalkeeper has the build & flexibility to thrive in the Premier League and should definitely protect their backline better than what Kepa did.
WHAT IMPACT CAN WE EXPECT?
After making so many marquee signings this summer, this one from Chelsea is rather….uncharacteristic. Rather than spending high on another player, they’ve made good use of their scouting system to unearth a potential gem. Personality-wise or reputation-wise, Mendy is nowhere near their summer signings.
He isn’t a ‘boy wonder’ like Kai Havertz, not a ‘magician’ like Hakim Ziyech or ‘one of the best in the world’ like Timo Werner. In fact, unlike these stars who made a stark impression in their young age, Mendy’s life story is entirely different. When he was 23, the Senegalese goalkeeper was ready to quit his soccer career and lined up in a local jobcentre in Normandy for a change in career.
Mendy stuck to his guns & played in France’s fourth division without a professional deal, before working his way up the ladder into eventually playing in Ligue 1. His arrival at Chelsea itself signifies a fairytale story, but the 28-year-old isn’t one to get entranced by the spotlight. Standing at a formidable 6’6, taller than Chelsea’s last great goalkeeper Petr Cech, he has plenty of potential to be their No.1 for many years.
He kept 9 clean sheets in 24 appearances last season to help Rennes obtain an impressive 3rd place finish in Ligue 1. In contrast, Kepa only kept 8 clean-sheets with a stronger defence, also making 9 more appearances than Mendy. The 28-year-old only conceded 19 goals in those appearances, averaging 2.5 saves & 0.7 aerial duels won per game (stats via WhoScored).
Mendy is excellent with the ball in his feet, which can help the Blues move the ball out of defence without any issues. But don’t let his huge build fool you. The Senegalese is extremely flexible with his movement, being a superb shot-stopper & possess surprisingly quick reflexes for someone his size. However, size does matter for goalkeepers in the EPL & Mendy’s command over his penalty area will help him nullify the crossing, long-ball threat for many sides.
Statistically, he’s been among the best goalkeepers in France over the past few years. At 28, he is about to step into his peak years very soon – something which aligns with Chelsea’s ambitions to dominate the Premier League in years to come. Mendy is humble yet not afraid of giving defenders some stick, with his commanding attitude & vocal nature guaranteed to keep Chelsea’s backline on their toes.
In hindsight, Mendy was hand-picked by Cech, one of the best goalies in the EPL era. So he definitely can’t be any worse than what Chelsea have right now and will only help them keep more clean sheets as well as concede less goals than the past few years. Anything more than that (aka competing for the Golden Glove) will be an added bonus!
Perhaps Chelsea fans would’ve wanted a goalkeeper like Atletico Madrid’s Jan Oblak, but Mendy feels like a pretty good budget signing. A working-class hero with enough technical ability & drive to succeed, he should improve the Blues’ defensive record for the short-term & hopefully be the motivational factor towards helping unlock whatever potential Chelsea saw in Kepa.
They might’ve lost a super consistent goalkeeper, but Rennes have received a pretty good fee (for their standards). This will help cover some losses made during the Covid-19 lockdown period & they can use a portion to sign a good-enough replacement as well.