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Mendy: “Zidane will decide if I play or if Marcelo plays”

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The left-back spoke as a Real Madrid player for the first time.

Benfica v Lyon - International Champions Cup Photo by Carlos Rodrigues/Getty Images

It may only be June 19th, but Real Madrid have already presented four summer signings and Ferland Mendy was given his outing on the pitch of the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday. The French left-back has arrived from Lyon and is excited to sign with Real Madrid and to work with Zinedine Zidane.

Before going out to meet the fans, the 24-year-old spoke at the podium inside the stadium. “It is an honour to be at this club, the biggest club in the world,” he said. “I thank the president for his confidence in me. Hala Madrid!”

After meeting the supporters for the first time, the player stopped by the press room to answer questions from the press. “I’m very happy to have been given this chance to play for the best club in the world and to try to win many trophies with this club,” he said. “To sign a contract here is absolutely incredible. I’m overjoyed and hopefully everything will go well here.”

One of the main topics of conversation concerned Mendy’s upcoming battle for minutes with Marcelo, the Brazilian who has been at the club since 2007 and who has seen off so many other left-back imports. He was even asked what he thinks of Marcelo’s physique. “We haven’t seen each other without our shirts on yet,” he joked. “I’ll have to see him and he’ll have to see me. There is always some degree of competition at these clubs. I am here to learn and I’ll try to play as many games as I possibly can. Marcelo is a great player and I hope to learn from him. In the end, the coach will decide who gets to play and who doesn’t. The fact that Zinedine Zidane is here is a big help for me in general and the fact he speaks French might help me adapt.”

The fact that he is now the second most expensive left-back in history was brought up and it was put to him that there might be additional pressure. “I wouldn’t say it is pressure,” Mendy said. “An agreement was reached between two clubs. Now I just want to do as well as I can.”

Mendy is the fourth signing to be presented this summer and he was asked if he’d like his countrymen Paul Pogba and Kylian Mbappé to join him. “Why not?” he replied. “They’re top quality players, but really we haven’t talked about Real Madrid. The only person from the French national team with whom I’ve spoken about Real Madrid was Raphael Varane. I’m sure he’ll help me fit in.”

Mendy also told a story during his press conference about the difficulties he had to overcome just to become a professional: “When I was 15 I had to undergo hip surgery and was told I’d never be able to play football ever again. I even spent some time in a wheelchair. And now I’m here to play for Real Madrid. That episode made me even more ambitious and I never gave up. I always chased my dream and now it has been fulfilled.”

Florentino Perez was the one to introduce the France international to the club’s guests and to the assembled media. “We’re going through very exciting days as we enter a new era that we hope will made Real Madrid fans’ dreams come true,” he said. “We have won three Champions Leagues in three years, but now it’s time to move forward. Despite the complications of the football transfer market, we’re bringing in top players. This is a great day for this club as we welcome the player who has been named the best left-back of Ligue 1 in the past two seasons.”

Perez then addressed the player directly. “You’ve chosen Real Madrid, when we know many other great clubs of Europe wanted you,” Perez said. “But you picked Real Madrid’s shirt because this was your wish. You are a great example of overcoming difficulties and of the Real Madrid value of never giving up.”

Perez also spoke of the great connection Real Madrid have with Lyon, the same club Karim Benzema arrived from one decade ago. “You’re coming to Real Madrid from Lyon, a club that is a friend of ours,” the president stated. “It’s a club that is an example thanks to their president Jean-Michel Aulas.”

Now, Mendy will hope to be the latest Frenchman to enjoy success in the Spanish capital.