It was a long time coming, but today afternoon saw Chelsea officially announce the signing of goalkeeper Edouard Mendy from Rennes, for an initially reported fee of £22m.
Mendy comes with a good reputation as a shot-stopper with great reflexes and passing ability. Having made close to 70 appearances for Reims and Rennes, he stands tall at a height of 1.97m – which will make him a commanding figure in front of the goal. He played a big part in the 9 clean sheets that the French club kept, en route their qualification to the Europa League.
This move, however, spells trouble for one player, and that is current Chelsea No. 1 Kepa Arrizzabalaga. Implicitly, manager Frank Lampard had made it clear that he does not trust the Spanish keeper between the sticks and so, would mean Mendy getting the requisite chances.
Last week’s error added on to a host of mistakes since joining the Premier League. Down 1-0 and playing with 10 men, Kepa passed the ball straight to Mane who slotted the ball comfortably to finish the game off for Liverpool. There have been constant questions over his rushing out technique as well as not coping with the pressure situations very well.
Mendy had a passing rate of 80% and last season, making an average of 1.6 saves per game. But his biggest challenge represents in the crude and physical style of English football. This is where Mendy needs to use his height advantage and properly communicate with the Chelsea defenders. Something that Kepa because of his relatively smaller figure has been failing to do so.
Another aspect is the massive shift from French football to the fast-paced Premier League. Forwards are sharpshooters with immense quality and Mendy’s reflexes will be put to the absolute limit. The onus is now on the Senegalese keeper to make the starting keeper spot his own, and it will be interesting to see whether he is cut out for the task.
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