Silly season, as the transfer window has less-than-affectionately been named, has gotten a whole lot stupider thanks to social media. Rummaging through incessant rumours, occasionally falling for the fake account or two, and inevitable disappointment make the the transfer window exhausting, a feeling Manchester City fans have become accustomed to. As City’s pre-season tour in the United States nears closer, it appears more and more likely that they’ll depart with only one fullback, in Aleksander Kolarov to add insult to injury. A reality that makes the prospect of Benjamin Mendy all the more tantalizing. A young fullback, adept at attacking and defending seems too good to be true and as days turn to weeks it is beginning to feel like it for a fanbase who hasn’t celebrated a fullback signing since Maicon.
Manchester City’s fan got to witness Mendy’s ability in the epic tie between Monaco and Manchester City, where the left back showed his attacking prowess with constant overlaps and crosses, one of which earned Falcao a penalty which he went on to miss and another the next match which handed Fabinho a goal. He ended the season with ten assists and one goal in all competitions in 33 matches, contributing for a goal once in every three games is a good return for most players, particularly a fullback.
Last season City’s fullbacks had little to offer going forwards besides the occasional Zabaleta surge and a Kolarov free kick. As a result, it makes it easier to defend wingers like Sterling and Sane when the threat of an overlap isn’t there, or at least not a threatening overlap. Considering just how many of Manchester City’s goals involve crosses across the six yard line and tap ins, it’s hard to imagine Mendy not thriving in attack.
Defensively, Mendy isn’t exactly Maldini at left back but he still has a lot to offer, notably in terms of strength and pace. He has a unique combination of the two which makes him a nightmare for wingers, whom often struggle to compete physically. Positionally, he may not be the most disciplined but he has age on his side and it is hard to criticize him for defensive positioning when his attacking output is as high as it is.
Guardiola will be delighted with the footballing education of Mendy as well. He was a vital figure in Monaco’s title winning season and Champions League run under one of the best coaching talents in football, Leonardo Jardim. Pep will be further encouraged by Mendy’s time under an idol of Guardiola’s in Marcelo Bielsa who had high praise for the youngster during his Marseille days, saying, “He knows he will become a truly great player. He knows he will become a star.” Such praise from an obsessive like Bielsa is not be taken lightly.
Manchester City’s business in the fullback market is far from over but singing Benjamin Mendy is undoubtedly a step in the right direction and one City fans will be hoping to wrap up soon, if not just to put an end to the cryptic Instagram posts. While City’s last dealing with AS Monaco was wrapped up quickly, with little media speculation this seems to be the opposite but as long as the deal is an inevitability, City fans can have a lot to look forward to.
Written by: Joe Shackley