After weeks of speculation Chelsea have finally announced the signing of Rennes goalkeeper Edouard Mendy for a £22million fee.
The Senegal international, who has been drafted in to offer some much-needed competition to Kepa Arrizabalaga, has put pen to paper on a five-year deal at Stamford Bridge and becomes the Blues’ seventh big-name signing of the summer, following on from the arrivals of Thiago Silva, Malang Sarr, Ben Chilwell, Hakim Ziyech, Kai Havertz and Timo Werner.
His arrival in West London ticks off another box on head coach Frank Lampard’s to-do list, as the Blues chief nears the completion of his summer overhaul.
Mendy, who impressed for Rennes last season in Ligue 1, will now be aiming to establish himself as Chelsea’s first choice shot-stopper ahead of Arrizabalaga, who came in for yet more hefty criticism after an unforgivable error in the Blues’ 2-0 home defeat to Liverpool last Sunday.
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The Spaniard, despite being the most expensive goalkeeper of all-time, is beginning to lose the backing of several Chelsea supporters, who are desperate to see a new face line-up between the sticks.
And should Mendy, who has expressed his delight at sealing a move to Stamford Bridge, insisting he is “excited” to work under Lampard, pass coronavirus testing protocols then he could make his Chelsea debut in Saturday’s teatime clash with West Bromwich Albion at the Hawthorns.
With that in mind, Mendy, should he pass the relevant testing regulations, could replace Arrizabalaga in goal and secure his first Blues start.
Ahead of him, following the midweek Carabao Cup win over Barnsley, Lampard could face some difficult choices when it comes to naming his defence. At right-back, Reece James is likely to return having started the first two Premier League matches this season whilst Silva will be hoping to retain his spot after storing 61 minutes under his belt against the Tykes. He could replace the suspended Andreas Christensen, meaning Silva could partner Kurt Zouma at centre-back.
Chilwell made his first appearance for the club as well against Barnsley, coming on after 66 minutes to replace hat-trick hero Havertz. Having come through that unscathed, Chilwell could make his Premier League debut for Chelsea against the Baggies.
In midfield, Lampard is almost certain to reinstate two of Jorginho, Mateo Kovacic and N’Golo Kante to the starting line-up. Kovacic played the full 90 minutes whilst Jorginho and Kante didn’t feature. Whichever two Lampard opts to go for in midfield, they should be joined by Havertz, who showed exactly what he is capable of producing when operating in the No.10 position.
With Havertz knocking on the door to adopt a more central role, it means that Lampard will be forced to tweak his forward line.
Against both Brighton and Chelsea, Lampard went with a front three, from right to left, of Havertz, Werner and Mason Mount.
But with Havertz having excelled in the No.10 position against Barnsley, Lampard, you would have thought, will plan to keep him in the same position against the Baggies, as the German aims to lay down a marker in the Premier League.
Should Lampard make the decision to move Havertz inside, it would mean that he would replace either Kovacic, Kante or Jorginho. But the conundrum would not end there, as the Blues boss would still need a fresh option to line-up on the right flank if Havertz moves inside.
One possible solution to Lampard could be to move Mount to the right, play Tammy Abraham down the middle and allow Werner to drift in off the left-wing, something he is more than capable of doing.
With all of that in mind, Lampard could face some difficult decisions this weekend when it comes to naming his starting line-up because of Havertz’s performance against Barnsley. But it is good options for the Blues chief to have, with the likes of Christian Pulisic and Ziyech still yet to return from injury.
Best Chelsea XI to face West Brom: Mendy; James, Zouma, Silva, Chilwell; Kante, Jorginho; Havertz; Mount, Abraham, Werner.