Chelsea look set to continue their eye-catching summer spending spree with attentions switching to a goalkeeper. This has always felt like the biggest priority for the Blues, which is why it is interesting they have left it until last. Sky Sports report that they are in talks with Rennes for Edouard Mendy. The fee for the 28-year-old could be in the region of £18 million. This comes after the club were priced out of a move for French youth international Mike Maignan, as Lille wanted £32 million for their number one.
Supporters will be encouraged that the last goalkeeper they signed from Rennes evolved into a club legend. In fact, the report suggests that Petr Cech has played a role in identifying Mendy as a potential signing. Despite links to Jan Oblak, Andre Onana and Dean Henderson, it seems that Chelsea have focused on Ligue 1 in their search for a new goalkeeper.
At 28, it will be expected that Mendy would come in and perform immediately. Although, it must be noted that he was a late developer with his first professional contract being signed in 2015. Since then, his rise to the top of Ligue 1 has been rapid.
Last season, he kept nine clean sheets and conceded 0.79 goals per ninety minutes. On this second metric, he ranked as the second best goalkeeper in Ligue 1, behind Predrag Rajkovic of Reims. Interestingly, it was former target Maignan that kept the most clean sheets in the division with 12, level with Rajkovic.
Excluding an own goal, Mendy conceded 18 times from a post-shot expected goals (PSxG) against of 19.7. This metric measures the amount of times an average goalkeeper would concede from the shots faced, therefore Mendy had a positive impact on Rennes. His PSxG conceded minus goals conceded comes to +1.7, ranking him ninth in Ligue 1. Walter Benitez (+10.5) and Rajkovic (+8.8) lead this metric.
It is this metric that underlines Kepa Arrizabalaga’s biggest weakness. In the Premier League, he conceded 9.6 more times than an average goalkeeper would be expected to last season. This ranks him as the worst in the English top flight. His shot-stopping weakness is underlined by a save percentage of 54.5%, again the lowest in the Premier League.
This is an area that Mendy would immediately improve on, as he ranked the third best for save percentage in Ligue 1 last season. The 28-year-old saved 78.4% of the shots that he faced. Only Rajkovic (79.8%) and Geronimo Rulli (78.6%) rank higher in the division.
There have been some concerns about Kepa’s dominance in his own penalty area. Although he isn’t the worst in the Premier League at dealing with crosses, Mendy would serve as an improvement. Last season, Kepa successfully dealt with 7.2% of crosses into his box, which is lower than Mendy (10.2%).
Chelsea will be looking for a goalkeeper that can add value in all aspects of his game, but shot-stopping should be at the forefront of their thoughts. This has been the biggest weakness of Kepa and as the PSxG outlined above shows, it had a negative impact on the Blues last season. Further to the pure numbers, it was clear that there was a lack of trust in the goalkeeper from the rest of the defence. This likely led to other errors in the back-line.
Although he may not be a leading goalkeeper in Europe, Mendy would represent a smart purchase at the rumoured £18 million fee. Chelsea may not have the finances left to make a major signing between the sticks and they will be reluctant to spend too much money following the failure of Kepa.
As shown above, Mendy is an excellent shot-stopper and has a well-rounded game. For a goalkeeper, being able to make saves should be the absolute minimum, yet this is where Kepa has come up short. If they are to complete this signing, it won’t be the most lauded of Chelsea’s summer, but it could be the most important.