Opinion

Chelsea should be glad Edouard Mendy is taking his Ballon d'Or snub personally

Tom Gott
Edouard Mendy is in the form of his life
Edouard Mendy is in the form of his life / Catherine Ivill/GettyImages
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While Edouard Mendy may state publicly that he is not frustrated to be left of the 30-man Ballon d'Or shortlist, his performance in Saturday's 1-0 win over Brentford would suggest otherwise.

Chelsea, who were without both Thiago Silva and Antonio Rudiger, were really on the ropes against the newly promoted side and could have easily lost by three or four goals. Only a superhuman performance from Mendy saved it from being a humiliating result, let alone turned it into a positive one.

Not only was his showing incredible, but the timing of it only added to the occasion. Mendy's snub from the Ballon d'Or shortlist, despite being the first African goalkeeper to win the Champions League, had been widely condemned by many, with Senegal team-mate Kalidou Koulibaly going as far as to suggest the colour of his skin had played a part.

With so much high-profile praise coming his way before the Brentford game, anything less than perfection from Mendy would not have cut it. If some of your peers believe you deserve to be in the conversation for the Ballon d'Or, you have to go out and justify that as soon as possible.

Six saves - the most he has ever made in a Premier League match - showed Mendy was ready for the pressure.

The same Brentford side who just a few weeks earlier put three past Liverpool's Alisson, a consensus pick for the best goalkeeper in the league, simply could not find a way through. Saman Ghoddos, Pontus Jansson and Christian Norgaard were all denied at point-blank range by a goalkeeper whose quest for recognition stepped up to another level at the Brentford Community Stadium.

"Someone explain why he’s not nominated for the Ballon d'Or," Rudiger wrote on Twitter after watching on in amazement. "What a performance... EDOUARD MENDY."

The performance came as a breath of fresh air to Chelsea fans who appreciate the value of a good goalkeeper more than most these days. Watching Kepa Arrizabalaga struggle to save anything in the 2019/20 season (form from which, to his credit, he has snapped out these days) had supporters crying out for a reliable stopper, and here he is.

While Kepa was blamed for Chelsea losing games, Mendy is being praised for winning them, and if this level of performance becomes a regular thing following his Ballon d'Or omission, then Chelsea could be laughing their way to a trophy or two this season.

Plucked from obscurity in France just like team-mate N'Golo Kante in 2015, Mendy has used his boosted platform to make his talent known, and now nobody is denying him a place towards the top of the current goalkeeper mountain.

Perhaps global recognition will come soon. Mendy is deservedly up for the Yashin Trophy, which will crown the best goalkeeper on the planet. He'll fancy himself in with a good shout, but for Mendy, who was claiming unemployment benefits just seven years ago, he's just delighted to be shining.

“Honestly I am already very proud to represent my country and be among the 10 best goalkeepers in the world," he said. "In just one year at Chelsea, it’s a very good thing. I’m not satisfied with that, I have a lot of ambitions but it’s already a good step.”

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