The Chelsea shot-stopper has been excellent since joining the club and a recently highlighted stat adds further weight to the argument he deserves to be recognised as one of the very best.
Chelsea rarely unearth hidden gems in the transfer market. Being one of the richest clubs in European football with the financial muscle to lure the biggest names to SW6, their transfer business tends to be focused on household names.
However, they opted for a slightly different approach when looking to bolster their goalkeeping options last year.
Since singing from Rennes, Edouard Mendy has been an incredible addition to the squad and has made the struggles of Kepa Arrizabalaga seem like a lifetime ago.
Despite falling to a first defeat of the season at home to Manchester City on Saturday, as my fellow CareFreeChelsea writer Anita Abayomi explained, Mendy still had an impressive afternoon.
The Chelsea goalkeeper made some vital saves to prevent City from running away with a game they dominated, with his unbelievable save from Jack Grealish’s curled effort possibly the best piece of quality we saw all game.
Gabriel Jesus’ deflected winner was the first goal Mendy had conceded from open play this season – the only other goal being a Mohamed Salah penalty in August.
Mendy’s numbers are staggeringly impressive and at £22 million he’s looking like a relative bargain.
Looking into season metrics from the Premier League this season , the 29-year-old ranks highest ahead of Alisson, David de Gea and Ederson for ‘goals prevented’, facing 19 shots so far this season.
The Analyst describes their goals prevented metric as ‘the number of goals that a goalkeeper was expected to concede compared to the number that they actually conceded’.
Mendy also ranks high for xGOT which is the number of goals that a goalkeeper was expected to concede when considering the quality of the shots faced.
Critics of Mendy have been quick to point out that in Tuchel’s back-three system, Mendy is always strongly protected, meaning his impressive clean sheet tally is perhaps padded a little thanks to the quality in front of him.
It would be naive of us to suggest Chelsea’s solid backline had nothing to do with their defensive record, though people seem to forget that a goalkeeper is just as vital to a well-drilled defence as any member of the backline.
The harmonious relationship Mendy has with his defence hasn’t happened by accident, it’s a product of trust, hard work and discipline.
Mendy dominates his area and is always alert when called upon to make saves. It is insulting to label Mendy as a bystander in what has been a brilliant defensive unit since Tuchel took charge.
But, even if you take away Chelsea’s quality, Mendy’s number showed plenty of promise even during his time in France with Rennes. A scouting report from Breaking the Lines prior to his Chelsea arrival looked at how his presence had not only improved Rennes but also his previous club Reims.
The report claimed of Rennes following Mendy’s arrival: “Their goals conceded had gone from 1.36 per game the previous season to 0.85 per game. One of the key factors for this improvement was Mendy’s arrival in the team.”
It also detailed that Mendy had a track record for outperforming his expected numbers in goal using his PSxG+/- of +6.3 over the previous seasons. PSxG is expected goals based on how likely a goalkeeper is to save a shot.
These impressive numbers and the improvements made by his previous sides were probably what prompted Chelsea legend Petr Cech to advocate the signing of Mendy from Rennes.
Mendy seems to be getting better and better at Chelsea. He’s extinguished any concern over an area of the squad that looked fragile and is now performing at an elite level, and that’s why he should be considered one of the best goalkeepers in European football.
If Chelsea are going to continue to flourish under Tuchel, you can be sure Mendy will be at the forefront of their progress.