When I think of Benjamin Mendy, three things come to mind: playful, charismatic, and constantly injured. The real question is, where do we stand with him? Is he a viable option as our starting left-back for years to come? While many may react quickly due to the current circumstances, this is something that should take a lot more consideration.
By now we’ve all seen the extent of Mendy’s injuries throughout his time at Manchester City. In fact, Mendy was actually suffering with a knee injury when the club signed him. Is this something that City should have considered when buying him? The answer is, they most likely did, but decided that he was still worth it.
Mendy’s injuries date back to a cruciate injury that he suffered in 15/16 when playing for Marseille, and this was only the beginning. Including the injury that Mendy suffered during his time of signing, the Frenchman has suffered six different injuries during his brief time at Manchester City. While this is something that cannot in any way be blamed on the player, it is still a cause for concern when the club are looking for a reliable starter for the team. Mendy has missed a total of seventy-one games during his time in Manchester.
However, we have been able to see him recreate some of his form from his Monaco days as he managed to assist five goals at the beginning of this season, which unfortunately ended with another injury resulting in knee surgery that should keep him out until the beginning of February.
Morale – Is he good for the team?
From the outside in, it could appear that Mendy is a fan favourite in the dressing room. When it comes to the internet, he’s modern football’s answer to the chuckle brothers, given that he has so much time to think of material while he’s sidelined. We can see that he has a good laugh with some of the other key players on twitter, and perhaps he has struck up friendships with them, but we can agree that he is a positive face in the dressing room to lighten the mood.
While he is a care free, fun loving bloke, perhaps he could wind it in a bit, as reports suggest that his friends from France are becoming a bad influence on him, namely as he was fined and given points for failing to state who was driving his car last year, as he was more than likely covering up for a friend. Instead, he should look at the demeanour of players such as Raheem Sterling or Kevin De Bruyne, who are happy to have a laugh, but don’t get caught up in any issues with their friends and always keep their heads down and in the game.
Performance – Is he worth the price tag?
Well, for the way the market goes these days, who is worth their price tag? Regarding Mendy, it is still too soon to tell. If we look back on his career at Manchester City and it is a tale of injury woes, the answer is clearly yes. For now, we all find ourselves googling how to donate our own ACL to him so that we can have our reliable left back which we sorely long for, but alas we still wait.
As of today, we’ve seen one spell of the Benjamin Mendy that we were hoping for, and that was early in the season as he registered 5 assists in his 9 games. This was exactly what we were looking for in terms of another dimension to our already star studded attack. The main problem with this is that we sacrifice the position of Leroy Sane when Mendy plays. Mendy is effectively a fast left back that wants to deliver fast crosses and play as more of a wing-back, which can work for certain formations, but we’ll often want to play four at the back, leaving Mendy to focus on his defensive ability. Mendy’s main issue is that, quite simply, he does not defend the way that is needed for premier league football. He is quite often caught out by the fast-paced change of the game, so he is left out of position, having to use his pace to make up for the lost space and essentially giving the forward a head start on his attack and more time to consider his options. This isn’t exactly what you want when considering a defender.
The good news is, he’s still very young. At 24, he has plenty of time to realise his true potential and can extend the short run of quality games that we were able to see at the start of the season. If he can overcome his injury problems, then we will be able to see Mendy blossom into the player that we all want and need. We may be frustrated that we haven’t seen him play much, and he’s a player that is often light hearted and comical, but we must remember that he will also be frustrated and annoyed that he isn’t able to play right now, too. He wants to be involved and show what he can do, otherwise we’ll just have to spend a large amount out on another defender yet again.
If not him, then who?
It’s been no secret over the years that the club has lacked a regular, dependable left back. £50m later we still have the same issue. Should we look to someone else? Well, that’s for the club to answer. That being said, City have recently been linked with two new fullbacks in Ben Chilwell and Aaron Wan-Bissaka. Now, you may be asking why we’d look at Wan-Bissaka here. Can he be converted to left back? More importantly, should he? Well, another expensive defender will eventually need replacing, and that’s Kyle Walker. So it could simply be a like-for-like replacement in getting a younger English fullback there.
Instead, let’s focus on Ben Chilwell. The young English left back is well known in the Premier League as a regular for Leicester City. Chilwell has starred in 24 of Leicester’s 25 premier league games this season, in comparison to Mendy’s 9. Chilwell has, however, assisted less, registering 3 this season, though this is largely due to his role as a left back who is not going forward quite so much as Mendy would. The main problem with buying Chilwell is that, as an Englishman, the premiums will be very high. The current price of British players is rocketing, what with Kyle Walker costing £50m, so City may continue practicing their caution in the market.
Another name floating around is Junior Firpo. Who is that, you might ask? Firpo is a left back from the Dominican Republic. He’s the same age as Chilwell, but is seen to hold a similar style to Mendy, where he is more of a wing-back and could quite easily do the job of a forward. The Real Betis defender has been lighting up la Liga with stellar performances where he is often involved with many of their goals. However, this would be another expensive solution to a continuous problem as Firpo’s current release clause is £45m.
Right now, following the links to the club, Chilwell seems like he could be the most likely option. Would you rather see Mendy stay as our main man? If not, who would you like to see come in to either support or replace the Frenchman?
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