Chelsea has signed goalkeeper Edouard Mendy from French Ligue 1 side Rennes for 22 million pounds on a five-year deal. Mendy only joined Rennes from Stade de Reims last summer and was one of the most reliable goalkeepers in the French Ligue 1 in the 2019-20 season. Mendy helped Rennes finish third in Ligue 1 to secure a first-ever UEFA Champions League qualification.
Mendy has arrived at Chelsea to provide competition for the struggling Kepa Arrizabalaga. Many Chelsea fans believe that Mendy can be a permanent replacement for Arrizabalaga, who has failed to impress since signing for Chelsea as the world’s most expensive goalkeeper in 2018. The 2020-21 season has just begun, and Arrizabalaga has still not lived up to expectations. He has already made two mistakes in Chelsea’s opening two Premier League games of the season.
Arrizabalaga made a mistake in their opening day win at Brighton. He conceded from a speculator 25 yard shot from Leandro Trossard. Trossard’s goal was the 19th Premier League goal Arrizabalaga has conceded from outside the penalty area since he joined Chelsea. Arrizabalaga was again guilty of a massive error in their second game against the reigning champions Liverpool. He made a mistake after Sadio Mane intercepted his pass to score Liverpool’s second goal of the game. Lampard replaced Kepa with Willy Caballero in their third Premier League game against West Brom, but Caballero was not convincing in that game, conceding three goals.
It is now clear that Lampard has seen the need for a more reliable option in between the posts, with both Kepa and Caballero failing to convince him that they can be dependable goalkeepers this season. Mendy received his first taste of first-team action on Tuesday night against Tottenham in the Carabao Cup. Although Chelsea lost the game on penalties, Mendy made a couple of good saves, and Lampard will be pleased with his performance.
A club that wants to win trophies needs a good goalkeeper. A typical example is Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson Becker. Loris Karius was making a lot of mistakes when he was the first-choice keeper at Liverpool. However, since Jurgen Klopp brought in Alisson to replace Karius, the club has won both the UEFA Champions League and the Premier League in the past two seasons.
Another example is when Pep Guardiola replaced Claudio Bravo with Ederson. Bravo was struggling to adapt to Premier League following his big move from Barcelona. However, when Ederson joined Manchester City, they won the league back to back. If you don’t have a good goalkeeper in your team, you will massively struggle to win any silverware.
Is Mendy an upgrade on Kepa Arrizabalaga?
Edouard Mendy had the highest save percentage among any regular goalkeeper in the French Ligue 1 last season. How does Mendy compare to Kepa? Mendy played 34 times for Rennes in all competitions following his transfer to the club in 2019. In that same period, Kepa has also clocked 42 appearances. Mendy has 12 clean sheets compared to Arrizabalaga’s 10. Mendy also has a better goal conceded record of 32 goals than the 59 goals Kepa has conceded. One notable aspect where Mendy trails Arrizabalaga is in terms of pass completion numbers.
Mendy has a pass completion rate of 71.6 percent, having made 863 passes. Arrizabalaga has completed 1,190 passes with a completion rate of 76.7 percent. Arrizabalaga is encouraged to play the ball out with his feet more.
From the statistics mentioned above, it is clear that Mendy is ahead of Arrizabalaga, and the Chelsea fans will be delighted since the weakest part of their squad is the goalkeeping area. It appears that Chelsea now has a top-heavy goalkeeper. However, one will argue that French Ligue 1 is a relatively weaker league than the Premier League.
Kepa Arrizabalaga joined Chelsea as a replacement for Thibaut Courtois, who left for Real Madrid in 2018. He now faces a stiffer competitor in Mendy, and the question here is who would be in the post for Chelsea on Saturday when they face Crystal Palace? If Mendy gets the nod and performs very well, Arrizabalaga may find his game time at Stamford Bridge severely limited, and that could be the end of his Chelsea career. Kepa is still the world’s most expensive keeper, and if he ends up on the bench, it will dampen his confidence. The Spanish international needs support from the manager, the club, and the fans to get back to his best form.