Mens Team

In Focus: Benjamin Mendy

JOYEUX: Benjamin Mendy was glad to be back in action at the Etihad Stadium
His first season derailed by a serious knee injury, Benjamin Mendy has spent much of the last year trying to get back to where he was when he joined City.

He returned for a few cameo appearances towards the end of the last campaign and travelled to Russia with France and though his club won the Premier League and his country the World Cup, it must have been a frustrating time for the former Monaco star.

Now, Mendy is back, and it hasn’t taken him long to remind people why City were determined to bring him to Manchester.

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The description ‘swashbuckling’ could have been invented for Mendy.

All-action, powerful and fast, the French defender’s energy adds a new dimension to City’s attack and his raids down the flank have already reaped reward.

Fabian Delph and Oleksandr Zinchenko proved able deputies in Mendy’s absence, but his role is so specialised in terms of energy, power and pace, he is almost unique in European football and hard – if not impossible – to replace.

Pep Guardiola said: “We could not demand Delph and Zinchenko do what Benjamin Mendy does, in terms of going up and down the wing, attacking space and having his physicality because they have different physical conditions.

                        CREATOR : Mendy with the assist, Bernardo with the goal
CREATOR : Mendy with the assist, Bernardo with the goal

"We saw Mendy's quality at Monaco in France, his quality to go forward. When a player has this quality, we must use it, because it's his ability to create problems.

"Last season we adapted the way we defended, used Fabian and Zinchenko, but we didn't have another option last season. That's why speaking about tactics you first must speak about the quality of the players and how they move with their team-mates for the way we want to play.

“Mendy is Mendy. He is what he is. Sometimes you want to kill him. Sometimes you say ‘wow, what a player we have.’

“Mendy has a lot of things to improve. Hopefully we can convince him to be calm and forget a bit the social media and focus on what he has to do.”

Without question, Mendy will learn under Pep. But the Catalan will aim to tweak his charge rather than subdue his natural attacking instincts.

Three assists in his first four games this season suggest he is likely to be one of the Blues’ most productive outlets from wide positions where he has already made 25 crosses into the box.

He’s also been heavily involved in two more goals and created two big chances for team-mates, so those three assists could have easily been seven. Perhaps more. Not bad for a defender…

Mendy is a force of nature, thrilling to watch and a very talented footballer, and he is only going to keep getting better under Pep.

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