The Blues goalkeeper has made an impact early on by posting two clean sheets after taking the Spain international’s spot in west London
After being named Chelsea’s starting goalkeeper by Frank Lampard, Edouard Mendy insists that there’s no animosity between him and Kepa Arrizabalaga, the player he has replaced in goal.
Kepa has been on a prolonged run of bad form since Lampard took over as manager over a year ago, despite costing the club over £72 million ($93m) in a 2018 move from Athletic Club.
The club-record signing has since lost his place to Mendy, who has performed well since his £22m ($28m) move from Rennes this summer.
Training under former Blues goalkeeper Hilario and alongside club legend Petr Cech and experienced stopper Willy Caballero, Mendy insists that the goalkeepers at Cobham Training Ground are united, despite the intense competition.
“Before my first match, he absolutely wished me good luck,” Mendy said of Kepa. “He never holds back if he thinks he sees things that I might have missed, just as Willy Caballero does as well.
“It’s great that we have a united team, the three of us, it is good for us and good for the rest of the team.”
The 28-year-old went on to discuss facing the same pressure that has seen Kepa lose his usual level of confidence.
“I think everyone who knows and follows football could see there was a unique situation here with regards to goalkeepers but it really wasn’t something that had any role in my decision to come to Chelsea,” he said.
“I was focusing on what the coach had told me about coming here. He, along with the rest of the club, reassured me that this would be the best club for me to continue developing as a player and to help the team. That’s what I’m focusing on.”
The Senegal international was signed on the recommendation of Blues performance and technical director Cech, in conjunction with goalkeeper scout Christophe Lollichon.
Cech and Lollichon were both at Rennes before joining Chelsea, and now the legendary former Czech Republic goalkeeper has come out of retirement.
He has been included in Lampard’s Premier League squad this season. and Mendy is excited to be working alongside a legendary player like Cech..
“It’s just an absolute pleasure to be with him every day. To work with him and particularly in training it allows me to watch how he works and to analyse his game,” he added.
“So it’s a wonderful bonus for me being here. But in terms of him playing, I think we already have three very good, competitive goalkeepers and that should be enough for us.”
Although he represents Senegal at the international level, Mendy was born in the Normandy region of France.
He grew up in the 1990s and watched Les Blues win the World Cup for the first time in 1998 as the hosts of the competition.
Following that, Senegal had what many consider a golden generation in 2002 and Mendy admits to being inspired by the likes of Zinedine Zidane, but also Tony Sylva. who was in goal for the African side that reached the quarter-final stage in Japan and South Korea.
“As far as World Cup 98 is concerned I think everyone was really rooting for Zinedine Zidane because he was such a wonderful player,” he added.
“But for me, it’s true that the tournament that stays with me a bit more was World Cup 2002 and particularly Senegal, who had such a wonderful tournament. I used to watch Tony Sylva in goal, who would leap around like a cat and had so much agility and such a wonderful physique for a goalkeeper.
“Watching that really gave me even more motivation to be a goalkeeper. I had already been playing in goal for about a year but just seeing him perform like that, just made me want to get down to the stadium and start jumping around, saving shots.”