Home / Ligue 1 / Edouard Mendy nearly quit football aged 23… now he is set to become Chelsea’s latest saviour

Edouard Mendy nearly quit football aged 23… now he is set to become Chelsea’s latest saviour

Frank Lampard’s Chelsea may have already spent more than £200million this summer but the Blues boss is set to strengthen the position that needs improving the most.

Chelsea are set to complete a deal for £25million-rated goalkeeper Edouard Mendy from French side Rennes, according to several reports. The west Londoners are in need of a new shot-stopper following the dip in form of first-choice option Kepa Arrizabalaga and the ageing of back-up Willy Caballero. 

Would Mendy be the right man between the sticks for the Blues or is he set to be another flop? Sportsmail goes through the 28-year-old’s fascinating career so far…

Chelsea are set to fork out £25million for Rennes goalkeeper Edouard Mendy (pictured)

HUMBLE BEGINNINGS 

Mendy’s story from youth level to the brink of the Chelsea first team is not your average progression tale. 

Born in France to a Senegalese mother and a Bissau-Guinean father, the goalkeeper began his career at semi-professional level in the third-tier of French football with AS Cherbourg. 

Despite spending four seasons with the Normandy side, he made just 25 appearances at that level before being let go in 2015.

Mendy only signed his first professional deal aged 24 after spells in the French lower tiers

Mendy only signed his first professional deal aged 24 after spells in the French lower tiers

Aged 23 and without a professional deal, Mendy was prepared to quit football as he was not able to find a new club. His struggles were so big he even queued at a local job centre in Normandy just five years ago in order to make his way.

He dropped down to the fourth tier to play for Marseille’s B team but was still not on professional terms. He was eventually given that chance aged 24 when he was snapped up by Stade de Reims in the second tier.

Mendy’s luck soon began to turn. While he was brought in as a back-up to Johann Carrasso, the Reims first-choice option was sent off just five minutes into the 2016-17 season and the understudy was finally given a taste of first-team action.

Mendy's career was saved when then-second tier side Stade de Reims called him up in 2016

Mendy’s career was saved when then-second tier side Stade de Reims called him up in 2016 

The Senegalese international was made first-choice goalkeeper one season later and it proved to be an excellent choice as Reims were promoted to Ligue 1 after they won the French second tier.

After one season in the top flight, Mendy was snapped up by Rennes last summer and represented them in the Europa League group stages during the 2019-20 campaign.

EVERYTHING’S BEEN CECH’D 

Chelsea technical director Petr Cech knows a thing or two about goalkeepers. 

The former Czech Republic shot-stopper was the Blues’ reliable option between the sticks for 11 years and now runs the rule over incoming transfers.

And Cech is reportedly the driving force behind Mendy’s imminent arrival at Stamford Bridge, with the technical director recommending the signing to the Blues hierarchy after expressing his admiration for Mendy. 

Chelsea's technical director Petr Cech (above) has recommended Mendy to the club

Chelsea’s technical director Petr Cech (above) has recommended Mendy to the club

The comparisons between Mendy and Cech are striking. Both players made their name in French football before being targeted by Chelsea, with Cech a former player at Rennes before moving to Stamford Bridge in 2004. 

Meanwhile, the two players are very similar in height. One of Mendy’s key attributes is his large frame and he stands at 6ft 6in tall. That’s marginally bigger than Cech, who is 6ft 5in. 

And if the 28-year-old can replicate even half of Cech’s career at Stamford Bridge, then Chelsea will have one good player on their hands. 

Mendy's 6ft 6in frame means he is similar in physical stature to former goalkeeper Cech

Mendy’s 6ft 6in frame means he is similar in physical stature to former goalkeeper Cech

AN IMPROVEMENT ON KEPA 

One of the main reasons why Mendy is being brought in by Lampard is because the Blues coach does not have any faith left in first-choice Kepa Arrizabalaga.

The Spaniard has been criticised by pundits and supporters for his poor shot stopping ability, forcing the Chelsea head coach to drop him in favour of 38-year-old Willy Caballero several times throughout last season.

Mendy will act as a serious improvement on current Chelsea first-choice Kepa Arrizabalaga

Mendy will act as a serious improvement on current Chelsea first-choice Kepa Arrizabalaga

Though Mendy’s goalkeeping statistics for Rennes last season will be a pleasant read for Chelsea fans. The 28-year-old had a save percentage of 79 per cent last term , which is a dramatic improvement on Kepa who has the worst save record in Premier League history with just 54.5 per cent.

Meanwhile, the Rennes goalkeeper has showed his worth at claiming the ball. Mendy has managed to intercept 10.2 per cent of all crosses he faced last season, only a dozen goalkeepers in Europe have a better record. 

His record at claiming crosses is also better than Thibaut Courtois (8.8 per cent), Alisson (8.1 per cent), Ederson (6.9 per cent) and Jan Oblak (5.5 per cent).

While Kepa has been accused of being too weak between the sticks, Mendy is set to be a dominating presence in the Chelsea penalty area. 

Mendy has a much better save percentage than Kepa, while he is an expert at claiming crosses

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