In one week’s time Edouard Mendy will have been at Chelsea for one whole year, and it is pretty safe to say the year for the goalkeeper who arrived from Rennes in France has gone as about as well as he could possibly have wished.
The 29-year-old straightaway established himself as the number one choice between the posts under Frank Lampard’s management and has retained that ever since under Thomas Tuchel. He won the Champions League in May and this week was handed the trophy for UEFA Men’s Goalkeeper of the Year for 2020/21. He has kept clean sheets in 58 per cent of his 50 games so far in a Blues shirt.
His Chelsea debut was away against Tottenham in a cup match and tomorrow he returns to Spurs’ stadium for his third derby against them. Ahead of the game, Mendy has been speaking about the need to keep proving himself to maintain his position as first choice, and about his first few weeks playing inside full grounds once again.
‘When you play for this kind of club, you will find big competition [for places], a big fight for playing,’ he said.
‘You can see it at Manchester City and at Liverpool - two good goalkeepers who are ready to play. So you have to be the best for yourself but for the team also because when the coach puts you on the pitch, you have to show why he called you.
‘Every time you have to show it, and you have to push each other at training. It’s competition and Kepa, me or Marcus [Bettinelli], we want to be the best for the team.’
Two sources of energy are helping Mendy make the most of his early months at Chelsea, the support he is now feeling from the stands for the first time in England, and the drive from his manager Thomas Tuchel.
‘Last year we didn't play in front of the fans but now with the situation we are lucky, we can play in full stadiums and it is quite an atmosphere at Stamford Bridge,’ says our goalie.
‘The fans are incredible and they help me a lot. When I watched the games when I played in France, every time I said to myself – ‘Wow! The atmosphere in England, especially in Chelsea, is incredible’.
‘So now I'm lucky because I play with this atmosphere, and this year for the Premier League, for the Champions League and the cups, we need it.
‘When the manager arrived he brought his philosophy and his energy and we performed straightaway. I think it was a good match between the manager and his staff and the team because the way he wants to play, we have the players for it so it was a good match.
‘For me, he brings a lot of energy. He is a very energetic manager and I think the team needs that so it's good.’