Monaco’s £40million-rated ace tipped to solve Reds left-back problem
Liverpool should go all out to try and land Benjamin Mendy to solve their long-standing problem position of left-back because the Monaco ace is “the real deal” reckons a French football expert.
The Reds have been heavily linked with a move for the 22-year-old with reports in L’Equipe on Saturday suggesting that they are now well-placed to sign him after a proposed switch to Premier League rivals Manchester City appeared to have stalled.
Tom Coast of Sport Witness believes that Mendy is the best player in his position on the market and would be an ideal signing for Jurgen Klopp .
He said: “Mendy is one of those players who got given a chance really early on in his career.
“He was bought by Marseille in 2013 and was pretty much straight away chucked into the first team because they didn’t have anyone else in that position.
“He’s been turning out consistently for the past four years. Even though he’s only 22 he’s got over 100 Ligue 1 games under his belt. I think he’s the real deal.”
Coast added: “Mendy is capable of running up and down that left wing all day long. Even if it’s the 90th minute and he’s just put a cross in, if the opposition counter attack then he’ll be putting all his effort in to get back.
“While he has a lot of experience already, he remains a young player with scope for improvement. He loves getting forward and sometimes he does forget to get back or he goes too far forward and gets caught out of position.
“You could put that to one side because of his relative youthfulness unlike his team-mate Djibril Sidibe at Monaco who is nearly 25 and should not be doing that any more but still goes missing pretty much every game.
“I’ve been surprised by the amount of interest shown in Sidibe because Mendy is by far a superior player.”
Mendy has only been in the Principality for a season having arrived from south coast rivals Marseille last summer but he was one of their brightest stars on their march to the title and Champions League semi-finals.
Coast said: “What caught the eye this year was the fact that Monaco were such an attacking team and Mendy was always overlapping with Thomas Lemar.
“In the Champions League game against Manchester City he was in their box more often than not and got an assist – one of 11 for him last year – which isn’t too shabby for a left-back.
“With what Klopp is trying to do at Liverpool I think he’d be ideal and it’s the position they’ve been really struggling in.
“Okay they had James Milner there last season which worked well at times but you want someone natural in there.
“He’s going to cost a lot but if there’s anyone out there who you can go and get it’s probably him.”
He added: “I know it’s quite fluid under Klopp but most of the time it’s Philippe Coutinho down that side but Mendy would overlap whoever it was.
“I know Liverpool don’t play with an out-and-out winger like Monaco but if Coutinho is cutting inside, Mendy provides the width.
“His crosses are very good – sometimes he overshoots them, nobody is perfect – but he will either drill it across goal or if there’s somebody there he can whip it in.”
If Mendy does have some deficiencies then Coast believes they rather ominously regard the defensive elements of his game but he doesn’t believe they are issues that couldn’t be ironed out.
He said: “Mendy is a big lad, just under 6ft 2in and powerfully-built so he won’t shy away from any tackles.
“It depends how Klopp might want to deploy him because if he was pushing forward all the time they might need to have a defensive midfielder on hand just in case he didn’t have time to slot back in.
“It worked quite well for Monaco because they had those two deep lying midfielders in Fabinho and Tiemoue Bakayoko who allowed the two full-backs to bomb forward while they sat back a bit.
“With Nathaniel Clyne also keen on pushing up, Liverpool would probably want somebody deep to ensure they didn’t get caught out much.”
Splashing the cash
The competition for Mendy’s signature is still expected to be fierce though and while a switch to the Etihad seems to have hit the buffers at the moment, City might of course still come back in while Premier league champions Chelsea are also believed to be in the hunt.
Coast said: “Much like Liverpool, Manchester City need a full-back because they’ve let four players go in that position and Alexandar Kolarov isn’t getting any younger.
“I would say it’s a case of who is going to pay the most for him. Monaco don’t need the money. They’ve sold Bernardo Silva already to Manchester City and they look set to cash in on either Fabinho, Bakayoko or both.
“They do have someone in place to come in for Mendy if possible in the shape of the Brazilian Jorge who they bought in January but it will come down to who can be the most convincing to both Monaco and Mendy himself.
“Few players get the choice of playing under either Klopp or Pep Guardiola at the age of 22 so for Mendy it will be a decision based upon who might employ him the way he wants to play and he has a very difficult but pleasant choice to make in that respect.”
When not on the field, Mendy is considered a real fun-loving character and ahead of potential sessions at Melwood there is an interesting anecdote that demonstrates both his mischievous side but also a willingness to learn and improve.
Coast said: “As a character in the dressing room, Mendy is very much a light-hearted guy.
“While he’s very serious when playing, off the pitch he has that relaxed attitude where he just wants to have a bit of fun.
“If there are celebrations in the dressing room, he’ll be the one starting them up but there are never any disciplinary issues and he always has a smile on his face.”
He added: “When he was at Marseille, Marcelo Bielsa was the manager one season and he likes to use video technology a lot.
“Mendy wasn’t into that at all and he found it very boring and would just fall asleep during the video sessions.“Bielsa would never say anything to him but gradually when Mendy was watching he released that he was actually really getting into what was being shown and he said: ‘I got to learn so much.’
“He asked Bielsa why he didn’t mention his falling asleep to which the coach replied ‘If I’d have mentioned it then you’d have been even more against it so I just let you do your thing because I knew that gradually you would become interested in what was going on!’”