Édouard Mendy snubbed for Ballon d'Or nomination?

Edouard Mendy was the first African goalkeeper to win the Champions League since it was rebranded in 1992 and, along with Zimbabwe’s Bruce G...

Edouard Mendy was the first African goalkeeper to win the Champions League since it was rebranded in 1992 and, along with Zimbabwe’s Bruce Grobbelaar, he is one of only two to do so in the entire history of the competition. In addition to this achievement, Mendy was part of one of the best defensive squads in the tournament in recent years. However, this was not enough for him to be selected as one of the 30 shortlisted finalists in the Ballon d'Or award hosted by France Football magazine.

This decision was recently criticized by his teammates from the Senegalese national team, Kalidou Koulibaly and Sadio Mané. Koulibaly stated that the collective of journalists, who vote to decide the nominees, tend to “favour players from their own countries”, while Liverpool star, Mané, went further saying it was “unacceptable”.

While such criticism may seem harsh, it is no secret that the work of goalkeepers is often overlooked by football fans and commentators, alike. In fact, if we take a look at the Ballon d'Or nominees, there is only one goalkeeper featured in the list, Gianluigi Donnarumma, who is a major champion for the Italian national team.

Looking back at the 2020/21 season and the players that really made a difference in their teams, it's easy to understand how unfair and short-sighted Mendy's d'Or snub really is, given his status as one of the best players in Europe. Mendy was not only instrumental in Chelsea’s triumph in the Champions League but also played a key role in the Blues' Premier League run, in which the team had the second-best defence of the competition.

For now, in the 2021/22 edition of the Premier League, Mendy has proved equally competent, conceding only three goals in 10 games, which could see them as frontrunners to reach the title as, according to Premier League outright football betting odds, Chelsea are currently priced as the second most likely team to win the competition at odds of 9/4.

More than just a Goalkeeper

Under the goalposts, Mendy is not a flashy goalkeeper, but his impact on Chelsea’s game is clear. Moreover, while he is not extremely agile, he does know how to use his size very well. Proficient in closing his opponents’ angles, including in one-on-one situations, the Senegalese player not only knows how to deliver spectacular defences but he is an assurance to his teammates. His skill set also includes great ease when defending crossings and, while he’s not one of the best goalkeepers when it comes to playing with his feet, with him Chelsea seems a lot less susceptible, and his numbers prove it.

Out of his 28 Premier League appearances last season, Mendy kept a clean sheet on 16 occasions. Adding to that, in last year’s Champions League run, Mendy conceded just three goals. Two of them happened in the knockout stages, first against Porto and then against Real Madrid. On the bright side, earlier this year, Mendy won the Best Goalkeeper Trophy, at the UEFA Club Football Awards and he has been nominated for the Yashin trophy for best goalkeeper, alongside the likes of Donnarumma, Kasper Schmeichel, Manuel Neuer and Emiliano Martínez. 

Ultimately, while this seemed like a great opportunity for the France Football magazine to pay tribute to an excellent season from Mendy, he will certainly have other chances to prove his worth. Nonetheless, his 2020/21 season will be forever remembered as a great affirmation year by Chelsea fans.

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