Chelsea have completed the signing of goalkeeper Edouard Mendy after keeping tabs on the stopper for almost three years.
Mendy, 28, has penned a five-year deal at Stamford Bridge, after sealing a £22million move from French side Rennes.
It completes a remarkable rise for Mendy, who at 22 was released by French third-tier side Cherbourg and contemplated walking away from the game.
Now he will challenge under-fire Kepa Arrizabalaga for the No.1 jersey, with the Spaniard coming under more pressure following another error-strewn showing against Liverpool on Sunday.
“I am so excited to be joining Chelsea, said Mendy.
“It’s a dream for me to be a part of this exciting squad and to work with Frank Lampard and all of his coaching staff.
“I look forward to meeting my teammates and can’t wait to get started.”
Former Chelsea ‘keeper Petr Cech, now the club's technical and performance advisor, has played a prominent role in securing Mendy’s arrival.
Cech, who made the move from Rennes to Chelsea himself in 2004, has played his part in pointing the club in Mendy's direction, rather than pushing to break the world transfer record for a goalkeeper by signing Jan Oblak, or making a move for Ajax No.1 Andre Onana.
Frank Lampard revealed he has lent on his former teammate with regards a new goalkeeper arriving, stating earlier this week: "Petr was important in that because goalkeeper is a very particular position.
"Petr Cech was the best in the world in that position for a long time so he's obviously had a big say in this situation.
"From my point of view, I lean heavily on him when it comes to goalkeeping today and in the future. So yes, he was very influential."
And Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia confirmed on Thursday: “As soon as Petr Cech and our technical team identified Edouard as the most suitable goalkeeper to complement our existing group, there was only one player we wanted to bring in.
“Edouard arrives following a season of real success with Rennes, he is ambitious for more, and we welcome him to our club.”
However, while Cech has been key it is current Chelsea goalkeeper scout Christophe Lollichon who has been the biggest advocate of signing Mendy.
Indeed, it's understood that it was Lollichon who first presented Mendy to Cech – whom he first worked with when Cech arrived in French football as a teenager – as the solution to Chelsea's goalkeeping issues when it was decided they needed not just backup, but ultimately a replacement for Kepa.
Lollichon, who spent nine years as Chelsea's goalkeeping coach before changing roles in 2016, has been keeping tabs on the 6ft 5in stopper for over three years.
The Frenchman has been monitoring the progress of Mendy – who initially began his climb up the football ladder with Marseille’s B team in 2014 – since cementing his place as Reims No.1 in 2017, helping lead them to the Ligue 2 title the following year.
The Senegal international promptly impressed in his debut season in Ligue 1, leading Lollichon to speak in emphatic terms over his quality and revealing he had already made contact with Mendy.
"He has reached maturity, with a fairly unusual path, and it is all the more meritorious," he told Le Phoceen.
"Edouard Mendy is today, for me, the best goalkeeper of the championship of France. He is what I call a proactive, very influential goalkeeper who does not suffer the game.
"Reims really did a great job with him.
“He’s a great goalkeeper that we necessarily follow in the Premier League.
"When you are nearly two metres [tall] with such a ground game, such placement and initiative taking as he has, if recruiters do not look at him, it's because they have to change jobs.
“Besides, I know he's a very good guy."
Mendy secured himself a move to Rennes last summer, costing the club where Lollichon has previously worked just £4million.
It is not merely coincidental that he switched to the Roazhon Park, where he promptly starred and matured into a leader of the side, who finished third in Ligue 1 last season – thus securing Champions League football.
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It was upon his move to Brittany that Lollichon last spoke in emphatic terms about his quality.
"He is the best Rennes have had since Cech," he told L'Equipe.
"He has all the assets of a modern 'keeper. He has the height, the agility and he’s extremely proactive.
"He never hides from aerial challenges, will not panic when he receives the ball under pressure and he commands the space when his defensive line is set high up the pitch.
“He’s probably made for English football, one day.”
That day has now arrived.
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