Benjamin Mendy is a serial winner. The Frenchman has lifted the Ligue 1 title with Monaco, all the trophies on offer in the English top flight with Manchester City and the World Cup with France all within three years. His performance for Monaco earned him a deserved big-money move to England in 2017. But, since arriving at the Etihad Stadium, he has had a minimal contribution to the honours achieved.
For those who don’t think he is a lucky man to win two Premier League titles despite playing just seven games in his first season at City and 10 in his second, ask Steven Gerrard. The former Liverpool captain was one of the best players of his generation. He made 502 appearances for the Merseysiders spread over 17 years, scored 120 league goals and made 92 assists.
The Englishman gave it all for the Reds and yet has no Premier League medal to his name despite coming ever so close to winning it. He certainly didn’t win the World Cup either, despite starring in several editions. Mendy only needed a 40-minute substitute appearance to be crowned world champion in 2018 off the back of a successful year with Man City.
After failing to retain the league title last term, manager Pep Guardiola is looking for answers. Makeshift left-back Fabian Delph has since moved on to Everton. Angelino preferred a loan move to German side RB Leipzig in search of regular football and Oleksandr Zinchenko has struggled with injuries of late. That has left a fit Mendy with the task of finally proving his worth to the team and his manager.
Unfortunately, the 26-year-old is struggling to justify the £52m City paid to secure his signature. His start to the new campaign has been anything but impressive. He has been the weakest link in a defence that has failed to keep a clean sheet in the first three league games. His game has become so riddled with errors that his position is now easily targeted by the opposition as the route to break through the team.
The left-back appeared to have put his horror show against Leicester City behind him when he did well in a 3-0 League Cup win over Burnley. But he gave another sub-par performance against Leeds United last Saturday that saw City drop points again. In three league games he has picked up two yellow cards already.
For a Guardiola team that dominates the ball with full backs expected to contribute to the attack but also making a quick recovery to snuff out counter-attacks, Mendy has been found wanting in both areas. That is not acceptable at a time when full-backs play a key role in a team’s success, not only in the Premier League but also on the continent.
Think of the roles Trent Alexander-Arnold, Andy Robertson, Joshua Kimmich and Alphonso Davies play for Liverpool and Bayern Munich.
It remains to be seen if Guardiola will keep faith with Mendy should the average performance continue. Choosing to play right-back Joao Cancelo in the left-back position against Lyon in a crucial Champions League quarter final match last term is significant. The Catalan manager clearly showed a lack of trust in his only natural left-back who was fit but could only settle for a place on the bench.
After bringing in Ruben Dias to bolster the central defence, many City faithful felt there was a need to also acquire a left-back. Why the City boss chose not to do so is unknown.
What remains clear is that the season will be one of scrutiny for Mendy. How he performs moving forward would determine whether he remains at the Etihad Stadium for the foreseeable future, especially if Guardiola extends his stay at the club.