Édouard Mendy has been an instant hit at Stamford Bridge, and has quickly established himself as the first-choice goalkeeper, relegating the world’s most expensive goalkeeper to little more than an afterthought at the moment.
And by all accounts, Mendy has fit in tremendously well in the dressing room as well, despite the language barrier, with the other players responding to his strength of character and personality just as much as the safety and confidence he engenders on the pitch.
Then again, that shouldn’t come as a surprise seeing the reaction of his former team and teammates, both after Chelsea’s 3-0 win over Rennes at the Bridge a few weeks ago, or after Chelsea’s last-minute 2-1 win at Roazhon Park on Tuesday. After the match, Mendy was even gifted a commemorative framed picture of one of his greatest moments in a Rennes shirt — a lovely gesture for a player who only played at the club for only two seasons.
After the match, Mendy reflected on the emotions of returning to a place that clearly means a lot to him as well — even while trying to concentrate on the very real task of helping his new team reach the knockout rounds of Europe’s biggest competition.
“Before the match I had a lot of emotions because I know the journey to the ground and then when I saw the stadium I had a wonderful feeling inside.
“Then my thoughts turned to the principle feeling which was to win the match and secure qualification. That’s what we did. It was a difficult game, we knew it would be, but we should great spirit to fight until the end.
“After the game it was great to see everyone who works around the stadium, the players and the staff and talk to them.”
Given such strong connections, a transition to a new team and a new league may have been a fairly daunting task. But the 28-year-old has certainly dealt with bigger problems than that in his career already, and, as one would expect, everyone at Chelsea has helped him settle in as well.
“Everyone has done everything to help me integrate as smoothly as possible, the players, the staff, they have all helped me. I respond to that by devoting myself to being the best goalkeeper I can be on the pitch, by doing what I can every day in training and in matches. I will continue like that to keep trying to help the team.
“I have joined a very good club. I feel good in this team. I have got to know them and gained an affinity with them which helps during games. Of course with Kurt and Thiago they speak French which is good for me, but I can communicate well with the other players too and I am really enjoying it.”
Tuesday’s game was Mendy’s tenth in a Chelsea shirt, the goal he conceded was just his third. He’s yet to concede more than one goal in any Chelsea match, keeping seven clean sheets thus far.
One of the three goals he has conceded has come against Tottenham Hotspur in the League Cup, in a match they ended up winning on a penalty shootout. A chance to right those wrongs this Sunday then.
“The objective now is to do a good match against Tottenham on Sunday. I don’t think beyond that. We want to keep the good run we have had going, and to do that we need to maintain those high levels in training and in the match itself.”
-Édouard Mendy; source: Chelsea FC
José Mourinho’s Spurs find themselves top of the table, which makes this an early-season six-pointer for the Premier League title. Keeping a clean sheet here won’t be easy, but with Mendy in goal, we have every chance to do so.