Jump to content
Join Talk Chelsea and join in with the discussions! Click Here

16. Edouard Mendy


Recommended Posts

Happy with the signing.

Only two days before the WBA match, is he ready to start? GK is probably the 'easiest' position to slot straight in without much team training so I would guess he'll play.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

27 minutes ago, Jason said:


From Marina in the statement...

"As soon as Petr Cech and our technical team identified Edouard as the most suitable goalkeeper to complement our existing group, there was only one player we wanted to bring in."

  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The list is long and includes some high-profile names, such as Jan Oblak, Gianluigi Donnarumma, Dean Henderson, Nick Pope and Andre Onana. These are just some of the goalkeepers with whom Chelsea have been linked in recent months, so how did they end up buying a man who was unemployed six years ago?

Until Donnarumma increasingly emerged as the strong favourite to move to Stamford Bridge, the initial reaction from many Chelsea fans to the prospect of him joining was, “Edouard who?”.

After all, this is one of the most important transfers for the club to make in 2020. With Kepa Arrizabalaga struggling to justify his £71.6 million fee, a world record for a goalkeeper, every pundit in the game has been talking about Chelsea’s need for a new man to stand between the posts if they are to challenge for the biggest trophies.  

So stories about Atletico Madrid star Oblak being on the wish list naturally generated much excitement. However, it is understood that the prospect of spending a big fortune on a new goalkeeper, someone like Oblak, was quickly dismissed. After paying such a sizeable sum for Kepa, doing it a second time so soon wasn’t regarded as a suitable option. As one source put it: “You can’t just keep throwing lots of money at it after paying over £70 million a few years ago.”

It would be a surprise if anyone outside the decision-makers at Chelsea considered the answer would actually come from a man plying his trade for Ligue 1 side Rennes. There might be concerns that this is a panic buy, a sign the club have been unable to get a top target and had to settle for anyone reasonable they can afford. Wrong.

Sources have told The Athletic that Mendy has been monitored for two years. The club’s technical and performance advisor Petr Cech has rightly been credited with playing a big part in this deal. But Cech was still starting games for Arsenal when Mendy became a player of interest.

It was Christophe Lollichon, Cech’s trusted former goalkeeping coach who is now employed as a scout and the head of the goalkeeping department at Chelsea, that spotted Mendy first.

Some might take great note of the timing as it was around December 2018, just four months after Kepa arrived from Athletic Bilbao. But it would be a mistake to read too much into this and think Chelsea were already having doubts about their expensive No 1. It is normal for clubs to be on a constant look-out for talent in all positions and at that stage, Mendy was probably only being considered as a possible future back-up.

He was playing in Ligue 1 for Reims at that point and enjoying his third season there. He had kept 18 clean sheets in 34 appearances the year before on the way to winning promotion and was on the way to getting another 14 from 38 games in France’s top division.

Lollichon, who has always appreciated keepers with great athletic ability and a huge arm span, was said to be very impressed with what he saw and has kept a close watch ever since. Mendy’s performances continued on an upward curve following a £3.5 million switch to Rennes in 2019 and he helped them qualify for the Champions League via a third-place finish. 

Mendy’s rise, which has also seen him win eight caps for Senegal, has coincided with Kepa’s demise. Head coach Frank Lampard made it pretty clear his patience had run out by dropping the Spaniard for five games in February, as well as for key fixtures during the run-in last season.

Lampard asked for a new keeper to be brought in as part of the plans being drawn up for this window. It was some call to make, with the club investing so much in Kepa and it is understood one of the opening candidates suggested to the Chelsea coach was a very cheap one in Joe Hart before he joined Tottenham as a free agent. The former England international was quickly ruled out of the reckoning and Mendy rapidly became the favourite, ahead of the other candidates mentioned.

Although Lampard has studied what Mendy can do, those close to the deal suggest that he understandably leaned on the expertise and opinion of former team-mate Cech, arguably Chelsea’s greatest-ever keeper.

What have they seen that they like so much? Inevitably, people will talk about his 6ft 6in frame and how the 28-year-old is significantly taller — five inches is a fair margin — than Kepa.

That is definitely a factor because even though observers say he is not physically strong, Mendy’s height means he has an advantage when it comes to collecting crosses and dominating the penalty area.

For the second successive season, both under Kepa’s watch, Chelsea had one of the worst records in the Premier League for conceding goals from set-pieces. A tendency to stay on his line has been regularly exploited by opponents, which has damaged the trust of his defenders. As one insider suggests: “Getting a keeper now that can come out and catch it will make a huge difference to the team.”

Another observer who scouted Mendy regularly in France tells The Athletic: “Collecting crosses is a real strength of his. Edouard is very comfortable taking high positions in the area, something Cech and Lollichon like. Cech used it in his own game. 

“The higher a keeper stands, the higher the defensive line can stand and the higher that pushes the ‘corridor of uncertainty’ away from the goal. This reduces the chance of the opposition scoring from a set piece into the box. The downside with that is there is more space to exploit behind, but if you have a taller keeper, that is reduced.”

Mendy is a good shot-stopper, too. He had the third-best save percentage in Ligue 1 last season (78.4 per cent), whereas Kepa ranked bottom in the Premier League (54.5 per cent).

Things haven’t improved for Kepa this campaign. Firstly, he was beaten by Leonardo Trossard’s tame shot from 25 yards during Chelsea’s 3-1 victory at Brighton. It meant that he had conceded nine goals from the last 13 shots on target. No goalie has been beaten by more efforts from outside the area (19) since he moved to England and sources claim it is another area which is a cause of great concern, that the ball doesn’t have to be in the corners to get past him.

Lampard did make a point of backing the Spaniard when asked about his form following the Brighton contest. “I’m very happy with Kepa,” he said. “With the shot, I’m not sure if he could have done any better but I saw a bit more confidence in how he was playing. He’s our keeper and I’m happy with him.”

But Lampard struggled to defend him following another error in the 2-0 loss to Liverpool. Kepa’s attempted pass to Jorginho was cut out by Saido Mane, who had a simple task of finding the net.

This is another key factor why Mendy has been approached. Chelsea have identified that Mendy has a far better ability with the ball at his feet than Kepa and back-up Willy Caballero, especially when it comes to kicking the ball long. With Timo Werner and Kai Havertz providing the side with more pace in attack, the prospect of trying to find them with quick clearances from the area — just as Alisson and Ederson do for Liverpool and Manchester City — is an appealing tactic to Lampard. Even if it doesn’t work as part of an attacking ploy, it will help relieve the pressure from teams that press them high up the pitch like Liverpool did to great success. 

Inevitably, people will be asking what role Mendy is being brought in to fulfil. Is he merely replacing Caballero as the No 2 to provide stronger competition and push Kepa? Will Kepa and Mendy be rotated? Or could Mendy be a regular starter?

Kepa’s poor form has certainly made the decision to bring Mendy straight into the side an easy one and it would be a surprise if he doesn’t do just that.

Contacts have confirmed Mendy will be given plenty of opportunities to play, so Kepa’s position is definitely in doubt. There have been claims he wants to stay and fight for his place but he may not want to risk sitting out too many fixtures and lose the chance to play for Spain in the European Championships. In that case, a loan would be likely.

The 25-year-old’s confidence was hit hard by his loss of form last season — so much so that he didn’t complain after being dropped following a 5-3 loss at Liverpool in July.

Sources speak of a man who is uncomfortable if a conversation begins about how he can improve parts of his game. He’d rather the subject not be broached at all.

Yet it shouldn’t be forgotten Kepa remains highly-rated in his homeland and was part of the Chelsea side that won the Europa League in 2019. Cech also spoke in glowing terms to sport.cz at the end of August, saying: “Additions will be made to the squad, perhaps even in goal, and this is what is being discussed now. But nobody is giving up on Kepa and we all hope he has a great future.”

It could be an awkward situation for Mendy to find himself in. That is certainly the view of Rich Allen, who writes for Get French Football News and French Football Weekly.

“There is going to be some responsibility on playing ahead of the most expensive keeper in the world,” Allen says. “Mendy has to contend with that pressure. The question is whether he can manage the scrutiny. It’s not the fee paid for him — it’s coming in for Kepa and the price he cost.

“But I think he will thrive. If you’re looking across the last few seasons, he has been one of the most consistent keepers in France. He does the basics very, very well and after Kepa, that is exactly what Chelsea need.”

Has he got the personality, as well as the ability, to cope with such a situation? Chelsea is a huge step up from Reims and Rennes. “It is difficult to know how he will handle the Chelsea dressing room but he is certainly very calm,” explains the former scout in France mentioned earlier. “On a personal level, he is quite quiet, softly-spoken, but on the pitch, he certainly speaks, commands and tells the defence what to do. He is a nice guy.”

It is understandable that Mendy is so grounded. In 2014, he was considering giving up the game for good after being released at the age of 22 by Cherbourg and found himself queuing up at the local job centre.

Speaking to So Foot magazine last year, he said: “For a football player or anybody else, being unemployed is like getting slapped across the face. Repeated failures leave marks on you and you start thinking that maybe you are not made for it.”

After training for a year unpaid at boyhood club Le Havre, Mendy earned a trial at Marseille, where striker Michy Batshuayi — now on loan at Crystal Palace from Chelsea — was making an impact. He was given a contract to become their fourth-choice keeper and, crucially, an opportunity to learn from France international Steve Mandanda.

“I reached a new level in Marseille,” he said. “I trained with the pros throughout the year, which you normally would not expect as a number four goalkeeper. It was proof that I performed well and made all the efforts required. It was a rewarding year.”

Then Reims came calling and Mendy hasn’t looked back. His story is certainly one that is celebrated in Senegal and the prospect of joining Chelsea has captured the nation’s attention.

Senegal sports journalist Saikou Seydi says: “It is a dream for all Senegalese people. Chelsea are already very popular over here because of the number of African players they have had in the past: Didier Drogba, Michael Essien, Salomon Kalou and Demba Ba, who is also from Senegal. We have this history. 

“People are excited that a Senegal player is joining a club like Chelsea. There is a feeling of pride. It will bring great pleasure to see Mendy playing for Chelsea. We have been waiting for this day when Mendy is announced as a Chelsea player. 

“We feel it’s time for Mendy to make a move to this level. It will also help the Senegal team. We want to win the Africa Cup of Nations and compete for the World Cup and need our players at the big teams. Going to Chelsea with Kepa still there is a bit of a risk but he has the character and quality to fit in there.”

Chelsea may get assistance in this regard from a rival club — well, one individual who plays there, at least. Liverpool’s Sadio Mane is an influential member of the Senegal side and has already come to the aid of compatriot Ismaila Sarr following his switch to Watford in 2019.

“Mane is very helpful with all the Senegal players. He will speak for them and do what he can for them,” Seydi says. “I’m sure he will be in touch with Mendy and do what he can to help him settle in England.

“Chelsea were more popular in Senegal than Liverpool before they signed Mane but that changed everything. Liverpool are now up here (points high to the ceiling). Mane is the star here, so that won’t change but Mendy will help Chelsea close the gap again. 

“The Premier League is the most-watched league in this country and people always like to support Senegal players when they’re involved, even if it’s not the team they follow. I expect Chelsea games will be watched even more now.” 

Just as Kepa has experienced, Mendy’s every minute in a Chelsea jersey will be surveyed on a global scale every time he plays. The acquisitions of Havertz and Werner have attracted the most attention this summer, yet the club may end the campaign feeling they saved one of their best until last.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My word he looks so.....strange in that picture in our shirt. He's so thin that it makes him look about 9 feet tall. 😂

Hopefully we have ourselves an assertive, dominant keeper now. No more timid Kepa. Throw him straight in the team.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hope Lampard did not mean it when he said Mendy's brought in as competition for Kepa. As long as Mendy performs, he should be the No.1 keeper. We already chop and change those in front of the keeper a lot and the last thing we need is to do the same with the keeper position. We need stability there.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, Jason said:

Hope Lampard did not mean it when he said Mendy's brought in as competition for Kepa. As long as Mendy performs, he should be the No.1 keeper. We already chop and change those in front of the keeper a lot and the last thing we need is to do the same with the keeper position. We need stability there.

Yep. We need Mendy and a stable CB pairing established ASAP. No other top side in the league chops and changes like us. Hopefully it's Silva and Zouma this weekend. Not sure if Chilly is fit enough to start.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

John Barnes with some of most ridiculous comments of the year 

John Barnes explains why new Chelsea signing Edouard Mendy won’t put pressure on Kepa Arrizabalaga

I never heard of this guy

Gesendet von meinem VOG-L29 mit Tapatalk

Link to comment
Share on other sites

29 minutes ago, Vesper said:

John Barnes with some of most ridiculous comments of the year 

John Barnes explains why new Chelsea signing Edouard Mendy won’t put pressure on Kepa Arrizabalaga


Article isn't working for me :(

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...