Edouard Mendy kept an astonishing nine clean sheets in Chelsea’s run to Champions League glory, a phenomenal stat, including a shutout in the most important match of all – the final.
Man City couldn’t find a way past Mendy and a stoic Chelsea defence in Porto last weekend as the Blues secured their second Champions League crown, beating Pep Guardiola’s side 1-0.
The Chelsea goalkeeper has been one of the Blues’ more outstanding performers this season, especially since the arrival of Thomas Tuchel to the club in late January. He impressed under Frank Lampard but took his game to a new level as Tuchel arrived.
It has been quite the journey for Mendy, who joined Chelsea for £22million from Rennes last summer as Frank Lampard eventually lost patience with Kepa Arrizabalaga after an error-strewn 2019/20.
Plenty has been posted on social media of Mendy being unemployed in 2014 and was claiming benefits. Seven years later, he is a Champions League winner.
Having eventually been given a chance by Marseille with their B team, a free transfer to Stade Reims proved to be the start of a rapid progression for the Senegalese stopper.
Mendy kept 22 clean sheets for Reims and also Rennes following a transfer across two seasons which saw him earn the interest of Chelsea.
Chelsea’s technical director Petr Cech, a former keeper at Rennes, had been keeping tabs on Mendy for some time as was revealed by Marina Granovskaia when Mendy’s signing was announced when the Blues director said: “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.”
With Kepa, the world’s most expensive goalkeeper, struggling in the Premier League under Lampard and with the fallout of the Carabao Cup final and Maurizio Sarri with his refusal to be subbed off still lingering, a new shotstopper was needed.
Mendy had kept nine clean sheets for Rennes in 2019/20 when Chelsea and Cech decided to take the plunge on the keeper with Lampard having lost faith in Kepa and with Cech having followed Mendy’s progress for the previous three years.
Speaking to Telefoot Chaine in November last year, Cech said of Mendy’s acquisition: “We had to make sure it was someone everyone agreed on, not just me. It had to be the club, and especially the manager, who had to be comfortable with the choice. We had a list of goalkeepers.
“We presented it all to Frank Lampard. We talked with the scouts. We shared information. We gave the pros and cons of each goalkeeper.
“In the end, my knowledge of Edouard for the past three years helped. I think he’s a goalkeeper who can still improve, with his work, professionalism and desire to be better every day. I’m convinced he’ll improve more, and these aren’t the best performances you’ll see from Edouard Mendy.”
Mendy had kept five clean sheets in six games by the time that interview with Cech was broadcast in France and he has gone on to collect a further 11 in the Premier League last season, as well as his tremendous nine in the Champions League.
Cech’s gamble on Mendy has paid off in a big way for Chelsea. The Blues eventually got back into the top four on the final day of the Premier League season and won the Champions League. The only disappointment was the FA Cup final but Mendy didn’t play in the competition as Kepa donned the gloves.
“Yes, I have been aware that Petr Cech has been watching my matches for a number of years,” Mendy has said previously.
“It is very pleasing to hear that he has been watching me and saying that he liked my profile and the way I was performing.
“So after the season with Rennes, the offer came in from Chelsea and it is a very proud moment for me to join this club.”
When Mendy sustained an injury in the final match of the league season, the 2-1 defeat to Aston Villa, there were huge concerns over his fitness for the final. The sight of him training back at Cobham in the lead-up to their departure for Portugal was an enormous boost alongside N’Golo Kante, two of the Blues key players.
Both played and won the Champions League. Cech’s prediction back in November has really rung true when he said “these aren’t the best performances you’ll see from Edouard Mendy.”
If we haven’t then Chelsea may well have found their number one for plenty of years to come.