When Real Madrid decided to spend €50 million to sign Ferland Mendy away from Olympique Lyon many fans and analysts alike thought that this transfer was just something Los Blancos didn’t need. Marcelo was still a valuable asset and Sergio Reguilon had completed a surprising debut season with the first team.
Six months later, Mendy is now an undisputed starter and his defensive presence, along with Courtois’ amazing performances, have turned Madrid into a very solid defensive team. Zidane’s men have conceded just 13 goals, the best record in La Liga. The whole squad and coaching staff deserve credit for that stat, but Mendy is so clearly the unsung hero of Real Madrid’s defensive system.
Coach Zidane realized that this Madrid team needed to keep clean sheets in order to score points on a consistent basis and the appearance of both Mendy and Valverde gave the team just that defensive stability.
The French left-back has been criticized for his lack of creativity on offense. Real Madrid fans have grown used to seeing Marcelo’s playmaking week after week and Mendy is just not that kind of player. His crossing ability is not that great either, even though his assist to Benzema in Real’s winning goal against Atletico de Madrid was nothing short of spectacular. He will never be Marcelo, but if Madrid can rely on their attacking players doing their job, Mendy will never need to replicate what Marcelo brought to the table.
His physicality and great defensive awareness are tremendous assets and probably have something to do with Sergio Ramos’ impressive form lately. Real’s captain had his hands full every time Marcelo was not around, and Mendy will give him the stability he needs to extend his career in elite football.
This isn’t a knock on Marcelo, who is still a brilliant player capable of turning things around in every single game with his unique skill set. Marcelo is quite clearly the best left-back in the history of the club and remains a valuable asset off the bench or when Mendy isn’t available.
Right now, however, Mendy is the left-back Real Madrid need. Los Blancos must find a way to win games while scoring just one or two goals and that task becomes much easier when you are able of keeping clean sheets consistently.