Who Is Édouard Mendy? The Inside Scoop From France

Tom Gott
Chelsea are closing in on Edouard Mendy
Chelsea are closing in on Edouard Mendy / Jean Catuffe/Getty Images

Chelsea's summer spending spree has been difficult to follow at times. The Blues have been throwing money around for the last few months, bringing in Kai Havertz, Timo Werner, Hakim Ziyech, Thiago Silva, Ben Chilwell and Malang Sarr.

Remarkably, Chelsea weren't done just yet. Finding a new goalkeeper to compete with Kepa Arrizabalaga was also high on manager Frank Lampard's agenda, and the boss had been tipped to move for a whole host of big names.

Jan Oblak and Marc-André ter Stegen were the two standout suggestions, with plenty of attention also given to André Onana, Nick Pope and Gianluigi Donnarumma, but Lampard has settled on a player whose reputation in England could hardly be smaller - Rennes' Édouard Mendy.

Arrizabalaga was dropped twice for poor performances
Arrizabalaga was dropped twice for poor performances / Pool/Getty Images

The 28-year-old has never played a single minute of club football outside France and brings just two seasons of Ligue 1 experience to the table, so it's safe to say that he's not one of the more well-known goalkeepers on the radar.

To find out more about Mendy, we spoke to our French football expert - 90min's very own Kristen Collie - to get the low-down on a player who is set to be Chelsea's number one next season.

So, Just Who the Heck Is He?

Mendy was a late bloomer
Mendy was a late bloomer / Jean Catuffe/Getty Images

Édouard Mendy is a 28-year-old goalkeeper who has been playing for Rennes since the start of the 2018/19 season.

He is the perfect example of a late developer in football, only signing his first professional contract when he was 24 years old. Rejected by many clubs at the beginning of his career, he is now one of the best in Ligue 1. 

Though he was born in France, he represents Senegal at international level and was a runner-up at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations.

How Was His Time in France?

Mendy has one of the most amazing stories in French football. Back in 2014, when he was released by fourth tier club Cherbourg, he considered leaving football altogether and even found himself queuing at the local job centre. Six years later, he's become one of the best goalkeepers in Ligue 1.

On his journey, he became Marseille's third-choice goalkeeper and finally got his chance to shine with Reims, where he signed his first professional contract in 2016. He only made his Ligue 1 debut during the 2018/19 season, but has undoubtedly been one of the league's best ever since.

Last season with Rennes, he was absolutely sensational, contributing to Rennes' historic qualification for the Champions League.

What Are His Strengths & Weaknesses?

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Strong and tall (1.97m, or 6'6" depending on your preference), Mendy is commanding in the box, especially when it comes to dealing with crosses. He also has superb reflexes.

In 2019/20, he managed a 78.4% save percentage - the third-best in Ligue 1 - and appears to be a natural leader who commands his defence exceptionally well.

However, he isn't the most consistent of goalkeepers, and did cost Rennes a Europa League tie with Cluj - a game which he was sent off in after just five minutes.

Mendy was dismissed for a poor tackle
Mendy was dismissed for a poor tackle / DAMIEN MEYER/Getty Images

He failed to deal with an onrushing forward and ultimately sent his opponent flying to the ground, clearly not comfortable dealing with that kind of situation. His management of one-on-ones will also need to improve.

Who Could He Be Compared With?

Cech joined Chelsea from Rennes in 2004
Cech joined Chelsea from Rennes in 2004 / PATRIK STOLLARZ/Getty Images

Regarding how he commands the box and how he deals with crosses, he's actually a bit like Petr Čech - who advised Chelsea to take a look at Mendy in the first place.

He's also similar to French goalkeeper, and ex-Crystal Palace man, Steve Mandanda. They are both tall, powerful goalkeepers with cat-like reflexes.

Is He Good Enough for a Club With Chelsea's Ambitions?

Mendy is ready to prove himself
Mendy is ready to prove himself / JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER/Getty Images

Honestly, he is. Kepa was, in my opinion, highly overrated. Mendy, on the other hand, has always been underrated, and will prove just that when he plays for the Blues.

Also unlike Kepa, he will easily adapt to the Premier League's physicality. He is not scared of any aerial challenge, which could be extremely valuable at set pieces.

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