Édouard Mendy's inclusion in the first team has yielded 5 clean sheets in 6 games for Chelsea. Calling him impactful would be a grave understatement. But as we’re learning, Mendy's influence goes well beyond the stats sheet.
Lampard has been focusing on the importance of building relationships on the pitch with constant communication that reduces or even eliminates uncharacteristic mistakes. With Mendy, this is seen prominently during set pieces, where he’s constantly talking to his defenders. Thiago Silva and Kurt Zouma being able to communicate in French has certainly made this task easier (though Zouma has mentioned recently that Mendy’s making good progress in his English).
The upshot of it all is that Chelsea are much less vulnerable in defence than before, and that’s certainly something we can all be happy about, including head coach Frank Lampard.
"What [Mendy] has shown so far is very complete. He’s made saves that have helped us, and if the goal had gone in the game could have gone against us. Against Manchester United particularly the first-half save against Rashford with his feet was a top-class save.
"He’s given off a sense of calm in his distribution, the way he’s coming for crosses. He asks really relevant little individual questions about his relationship with players around him on the pitch, things I love, players to engage with each other."
While the sample size is smaller for Mendy than his peers, his stats so far give plenty fo reason for optimism that we finally have a reliable goalkeeper who will, at the very least, save the savable shots — the bar’s set pretty low in that regard.
Christophe Lollichon, who was pivotal to Petr Čech's growth into a world class goalkeeper, also played a big part in Chelsea signing Mendy — incidentally also from Rennes, just like Čech in 2004.
Lampard’s found those scouting reports to be spot on, and has been delighted to find a player with personality and humility on and off the pitch, born of a difficult and inspiring career path.
"He has shown his qualities that we brought him into the club for.
"All the feedback was he had a great personality, a strong personality in the dressing room, and everything I heard, all those positives, came true. It seems his personality is pretty laid-back with a tough edge when it comes to work.
"He is very low maintenance, he works hard, he wants to work more, and he is eager to engage with his team-mates and myself. He has a smile on his face so it’s a real positive when you have a player that comes in and hits the ground running on the pitch and in the dressing room.”
Things tend not to remain rosy for too long and inevitably there will be times when Mendy concedes a goal or even makes the odd mistake, but for now, things are certainly looking bright. And if Lampard's confidence is anything to go by, there's a lot more to come from the goalkeeper indeed, just as Čech has been predicting as well.
"It’s been a really good start for him. I’m very confident in him, he’s shown great qualities so far, and I’m sure there will be a lot more to come.
"With his attitude, which is key, I have seen how he wants to work and his humility, I think he can go much further in many departments."
- Frank Lampard; source: Chelsea FC
On to the Mendy Derby!