Benjy Mendy likes to party hardy
On the eve of last week’s mid-week game against Cardiff, embargoed footage of Pep’s pre-match press conference emerged in which Benjamin Mendy’s activities were brought into question.
The 24-year-old had spent the Friday night before the Fulham game (which he already knew he’d have no part in and had not been taken down to London) in a nightclub in Manchester as footage of him emerged in said club at what was apparently 3:30am. When asked about it, Pep went full “I’m fine, everything is fine” whilst being simultaneously very short and abrupt and visibly not fine, so he probably wasn’t fine at all.
“They are old enough to know what they have to do. I’m not his father. I would prefer him to go home earlier but I don’t control the players in that situation. I am not frustrated, I’m a relaxed guy.”
The statement had more than a few shades of the manic “I am so happy, more happy than you can believe” rant on Match of the Day in his opening season. Everything’s fine, guys, if Pep is saying he’s relaxed then it’s because he definitely is, why would he lie?!
There have been some common responses to this, most of which are coming from ex-footballers who spent their prime years getting leathered after every match. “We always complain that footballers are bland and boring but now they’re going on nights out and being human we want them to stop! #hypocrites #talksportdrive” and “Give him a break, he’s a young lad enjoying himself, he doesn’t drink, he wasn’t playing the next day, what harm has he done? #mendy #sober”.
My main issue isn’t whether or not he drinks or whether he should EVER go on nights out, it’s the idea that he needs to have the self-awareness to know WHEN to go on nights out. It’s emerged that Mendy, along with Kompany, was set for an extra training session while the squad played in London in order to work on regaining fitness after a long injury lay off. So if we’re being generous and assuming he left at bang on 3:30am, he should have arrived home at (again, being generous) 4:00am. Those aren’t the ideal conditions for a day in a menial office job, let alone a physically gruelling training session on the road to recovery.
Of course, this isn’t an isolated incident. Mendy landed himself in hot water with Pep and the coaching staff back in September for opting to watch Anthony Joshua fighting in Wembley Stadium, which then caused him to turn up late to a recovery session whilst coming back from a foot injury. Mendy has been called out by Pep for his social media activity which has certainly been excessive during his time at the club. It’s telling that his presence on Twitter and Instagram has evaporated since the turn of the new season.
The ultimate frustration, in the case of Mendy, is that he’s barely played in the last two years. Since his arrival at the club he’s been plagued with injury. Unfortunate impact injury, but injury nonetheless. If Sergio Aguero, for example, goes out clubbing til 4:00am one weekend whilst in the form of his life, I’ll forgive him because he’s Sergio Aguero. He’s doing it on the pitch every week. Benjamin Mendy, on the other hand, is doing exactly the opposite.
When you’ve spent the first 18 months of your Manchester City career being a well-paid “bantz” merchant on Twitter and Instagram, with his biggest contribution to the team so far being that he’s coined the phrase “Shark Team”, you’re not really in any sort of position to take liberties with your training and fitness regimes. Mendy needs to prove himself not only to the coaching staff and Guardiola, but also to the fans. He’s yet to string together ten consecutive starts for the club and after two years that’s a pretty shoddy return. I’m well aware that his transfer fee is something he’s got no control over, however he’s a long way off being worth anywhere near what we paid for him.
He lacks professionalism and that’s not necessarily a bad thing – he’s clearly well loved in the dressing room and, all joking aside, he did legitimately have an impact last season with his personality alone. However when it comes to situations like this, where he’s on the fringe of return to the first team and still seems to be treating it like a bit of a laugh, like the troublesome kid in school that always got away with murder because the teachers couldn’t help but find him endearing, it’s a huge hindrance.
He got his first start in a long time against Brighton over the weekend, though it felt more like a matter of circumstance than anything else. By the time you read this article, he may well have started against Tottenham on the Tuesday night, though I’m inclined to believe Laporte will return there as he has done in previous big games. He has a real chance now to prove himself to Guardiola and the rest of the coaching staff that he does have what it takes and that we shouldn’t be looking to replace him in the summer.
I hope he turns it around soon. I really do. If he doesn’t, he runs the risk of being the biggest flop in the club’s history.
City can’t sell out Wembley
Just kidding, I’m not talking about this. It’s ridiculous.
We’re entering the transfer zone
Last week I listened to the brilliant 93:20 Podcast, which featured full-time United fan, part-time Bert, Sam Lee. Throughout the podcast, he provided plenty of transfer insight on the various rumours which have been doing the rounds and the pieces of information he’s managed to get regarding City’s upcoming transfers.
I won’t go into too much deal on everything that was said because, quite frankly, the 93:20 Podcast will cost you £4.00 per month and is absolutely worth every penny of that for this episode and dozens more, so I don’t want to just rip off their content and give you no reason to listen yourself.
What I will focus on is what Sam Lee has since written about outside of the podcast. Mainly that the midfield focus has moved away from Tanguy Ndombele and that Txiki’s sights have firmly set on an Atlético man. However, despite what reports the week before may have suggested, it isn’t Saúl. It is, instead, Rodri.
The 22-year-old centre-mid is a complex central midfielder. He has the ability to play the classic pivot role which Pep has built both his Barcelona and Bayern sides around with the likes of Busquets and Xabi Alonso, yet his sheer height gives him the physicality which is sorely needed in the physical demands of the Premier League. Personally, I see him as being able to provide slightly more of a box-to-box play-making role, somewhere between a Regista and a Carrilero. A Mezzala of sorts.
Of course, that entire last paragraph was bollocks. I’ve never seen him play, I didn’t even know who he was prior to the conversation Sam Lee had with the guys on the podcast. Looking at him since, I vaguely remember seeing his name in Football Manager once or twice, however as he only just signed for Atléti last summer it’s a bit of a shock to see us linked with him already.
Barcelona are rumoured to be interested, as they supposedly were last summer, however last summer they no doubt had their sights firmly set on Frenkie De Jong, a player they now actually have, so I very much doubt they’ll provide any competition. Real Madrid are looking to revitalise their midfield, though no doubt the fact he’ll be taking the long journey (and, speaking from experience, it’s a hell of a long journey) from the Wanda Metropolitano to the Bernabeu will make it unlikely they’ll make a move. The rumour is that Madrid’s focus has turned to Ndombele, a player who City’s interest in seems to have waned by all accounts. However, Juventus are also strongly linked with Ndombele, and who knows where the club who inevitably misses out will turn?
With a release clause of reportedly €70m (£60m for all you plebs who can’t use a Google currency converter), it’s no wonder that City have identified him as their target. It smacks of Manchester City – it’s expensive but not too expensive. Why get rinsed by a club who knows they can bend you over a barrel when you want one of their players when you can identify an alternative who has a concrete release clause? Aymeric Laporte’s new contract was nothing more than a set-back, City ultimately got their man because they knew that there was only one price they needed to pay.
Reports have emerged that Rodri has told the club that he wants to leave, though Mundo Deportivo have quickly snuffed that story. It’s difficult to know which is true, however as Sam Lee pointed out on Twitter, City don’t usually get this deep into a transfer without having some idea that the player wants to join.
With seemingly little competition (so far) and a locked in amount of money they’d have to pay, making the negotiation stage of the transfer utterly redundant, it looks like this is a transfer which could very easily go ahead. Only two things could stop it in its tracks – either he signs a new deal with Atléti (who desperately need funds to be compliant with FFP with a new stadium hanging over them) or Manchester United wade in and offer them Ander Herrera and give Rodri a £450k per week basic wage.
Or Chelsea hire Simeone and Rodri suddenly decides that he wants to link up with his old manager.
Or City let Rodri go on holiday to Brazil, confident that the deal is wrapped up, only for PSG to intercept him and sign him under the club’s nose.
Okay, so there’s a few things that can stop this transfer from going ahead.
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