One of Chelsea’s more unheralded pieces of business last summer means the club do not have to become embroiled in trying to win over Mino Raiola
Chelsea’s need for a new goalkeeper was clear long before the extended 2019/20 campaign had drawn to a close. Kepa Arriazbalga’s form had nosedived and to such an extent that 38-year-old Willy Caballero was preferred for the crunch end-of-season fixtures.
The Blues were linked with a host of top-level goalkeepers, all more expensive than the next. A move for Jan Oblak was mooted but that would’ve set the club back more than £100million.
So Chelsea instead attempted to find value in the market and, with a lot of help from technical director and club legend Petr Cech, settled on Rennes’ 28-year-old goalkeeper Edouard Mendy.
“Part of my job is obviously to know about players when I’m asked by the club or the manager,” Cech told BT Sport in November when discussing how the £22millon deal for Mendy came about.
“I have to give credit to Christophe Lollichon [now head of Chelsea’s goalkeeper department] who spoke to me three-and-a-half years ago when Edouard started playing for Rennes.
“The one thing which is great about his story is the year he was without a club because of his agent. So while I was playing at Arsenal Christophe told me, ‘Look at this goalkeeper he’s got a very interesting story.’
So I started watching and following him. Since I took my job [at Chelsea] I’ve watched about 30 to 40 different goalkeepers over the past year and a half, but I kept following Edouard.
“And when you see his evolution and progression, when we talked about what we wanted to add to our goalkeeping group, his name came to my mind
Cech’s approval was enough for Frank Lampard. The Blues’ scouting team also felt Mendy had the right profile for a Chelsea goalkeeper. So the deal was done and the Senegal international came straight in as the Blues’ number one.
He’s kept the role ever since. Mendy made 44 appearances during his debut campaign at Stamford Bridge and went from strength to strength.
His performances in the Champions League, in particular, were outstanding. The 29-year-old conceded just three goals in his 12 appearances, a record in the competition, to help the Blues lift the big-eared trophy in Porto on Saturday.
Having proved himself time and time again, Mendy is, without a doubt, Chelsea’s goalkeeper for the seasons to come. And that means the club can steer clear of what is likely to be the biggest transfer saga of the summer window.
Namely, where will Gianluigi Donnarumma end up once his AC Milan contract expires at the end of this month?
The 22-year-old is one of the finest goalkeepers in European football and given he will not cost a transfer fee, there are a host of clubs queuing to secure his services. Juventus have been linked, Barcelona too. There is also supposed interest from Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain.
Chelsea have been mentioned in the Italian press as a potential suitor for Donnarumma, who is represented by Mino Raiola.