LONDON • It took Edouard Mendy five years to go from being unemployed to the Champions League and it has taken him just five games to seemingly solve Chelsea’s goalkeeping problem.
All eyes were on the giant Senegal stopper when the Premier League club paid £22 million (S$39 million) to sign him from French Ligue 1 outfit Rennes in September in response to the chronic struggles of Kepa Arrizabalaga.
Less than two months later, Mendy – standing at almost 2m – has appeared to have made the No. 1 position his own as Chelsea host his former team in Group E of the Champions League today.
Blues manager Frank Lampard sang the praises of the 28-year-old, who has kept five successive clean sheets in all competitions, during his virtual pre-match press conference yesterday.
“It’s always a collective effort, but he has made a very good start. He has to take credit for that, giving confidence to others as well,” he said.
“When we were in to sign him, all the feedback was that he had a strong personality in the dressing. He is very low maintenance. He wants to engage and he works hard. He is a positive in the dressing room.
“He has shown big parts of his game. Big saves in big moments, like in Manchester United against (Marcus) Rashford. He has given off a sense of calm with crosses. It is early days for him at the club.
“I am very confident in him. There will be a lot more come, but in his attitude, I have seen he definitely can go much further in many departments.
“What I have seen is that he has a massive work ethic to push himself. He has shown that and smiled every day. He has asked relevant questions and engaged with the players around him. I have just sensed that with him. He seems pretty laid back.”
Timo Werner, another of the Blues’ summer arrivals, also spoke glowingly of Mendy and how fast he has adapted to life in England.
“Edou is a really nice guy. He is really calm and you can talk to him and we have a lot of French-speaking players who can help him,” said the Germany striker.
Consecutive clean sheets Edouard Mendy has kept for Chelsea in all competitions.
Mendy’s save percentage in the Premier League since moving to Stamford Bridge. He is also yet to concede for the Blues in Europe.
“There are a lot of young guys who are very nice and calm, and can settle in.”
Chelsea and Europa League winners Sevilla are expected to fight it out for first and second in Group E – the opening two games have indicated as much – but Lampard does not want his players to take their foot off the gas against Rennes, who are making their debut at this level.
“Where we are in the group we are happy, but we can’t get complacent,” he said. “We must stay on top of ourselves. The clean sheets have been great. We always want to improve. We have seen some progression but it is a work in progress. We can’t come off.”
Christian Pulisic will be absent for the Stamford Bridge encounter with a “very minor injury”, according to Lampard, who can otherwise draw on a fully fit squad.
CHELSEA V RENNES
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