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World Cup player focus #8: Benjamin Mendy

GREAT EXPECTATIONS: Benjamin Mendy is part of a hugely-talented French World Cup squad

GREAT EXPECTATIONS: Benjamin Mendy is part of a hugely-talented French World Cup squad

We continue our World Cup player profiles with City's French defender Benjamin Mendy....

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Squad role: The very definition of the modern, athletic defender, Benjamin Mendy brings pace, poise and passion by the bucket-load to Didier Deschamps' hugely-talented squad.

Operating as a powerful left-back, Mendy has emerged as one of Europe’s most admired left-sided full-backs, lauded both for his defensive prowess and the threat he carries from his athletic surges up-field allied to his laser-guided precision with his dangerous crosses into the box.

The very fact that Mendy is out in Russia as part of the French squad is testament to his dedication, professionalism and mental fortitude.

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He joined City last summer after a stellar 2016/17 season with Monaco, whom he helped to the French title and the Champions League semi-finals, a run which saw him hugely impress in two last-16 ties against the Blues.

Benjamin then endeared himself to every City fan from the get-go thanks both to his gregarious, infectious personality off the field and the electric dynamism he brought to his early performances.

However, after making a superb start to his City career, Benjamin suffered a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament in our second home game of the season against Crystal Palace in September.

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Given the severity of the injury, the expectation was that the 23-year-old would be forced to miss the rest of the campaign as well as the summer showpiece in Russia.

Instead, Mendy dug deep during his rehabilitation and returned, well ahead of schedule, to a rapturous reception from City fans in our 5-0 home win over Swansea City and went on to make the requisite number of appearances needed to win a Premier League title winners’ medal. His comeback was also enough to persuade Deschamps to included Mendy in a squad many have tipped as more than capable of going all the way to winning the World Cup.

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International highlights: Mendy made his international debut in March of last year in a 3-1 World Cup qualifying win over Luxembourg and he has since gone on to make seven appearances for Les Bleus, though that tally would have undoubtedly been higher but for his injury last season.

This summer's tournament in Russia is his first experience of a major tournament and after being an unused substitute in France’s two opening group games, Mendy finally made his World Cup bow in Tuesday's final group game against Denmark, coming on as a second-half substitute in the goalless which was enough to confirm the French as group winners.

A former French Under-16 international, Benjamin also figured three times for France at the 2011 U17 World Cup where the national side reached the quarter-finals. 

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