Benjamin Mendy (£6.0m) has the potential to be the go-to Manchester City defensive option in 2018/19 after his comeback from long-term injury.
The Frenchman was ruled out for most of last season after rupturing the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee in Gameweek 6, but is fit and ready to go for the new campaign, at a cheaper price than colleagues Nicolas Otamendi (£6.5m) and Kyle Walker (£6.5m).
We’ve gone over the data to find out whether Fantasy Premier League managers can expect to see the Mendy who registered eight assists in 25 league matches and seven Champions League appearances prior to signing for Man City.
Mendy’s start to the 2017/18 demonstrated his huge creative potential. In the first five Gameweeks of last season, before his Gameweek 6 injury, only Premier League four defenders created more chances than the Frenchman, all of them with more starts under their belt in that period. The Frenchman fashioned seven opportunities in 270 minutes, Jose Holebas (£4.5m) eight in 360, Aaron Cresswell (£5.5m) nine in 369, Trent Alexander-Arnold (£5.0m) nine in 269 and Ben Davies (£6.0m) 13 in 350.
In fact, only three Man City players created more than Mendy, David Silva (£8.5m) with 17 chances in five starts, Kevin De Bruyne (£10.0m) with 15 in five and Sergio Aguero (£11.0) with 12 in four. And despite making just seven appearances in the entire campaign, just De Bruyne and Leroy Sané (£9.5m) registered more successful crosses from open play than Mendy’s eight, with 14 and nine respectively.
Adding a further three appearances after a Gameweek 34 return, Mendy created nine chances and had five shots on goal in 361 minutes across the season as a whole. That averaged out at a key pass every 40.1 minutes, the next best in the City defence was Walker with one every 92.9. Furthermore, his shot every 72.2 minutes was the second-best in the City defence, with Danilo’s (£5.5m) 70.6 coming out on top.
On top of Mendy’s impressive creative potential is his ability to keep a healthy number of clean sheets. No side conceded fewer goals than Man City’s 27 last season and only Manchester United recorded more clean sheets, their total of 19 just one better than the Citizens’ 18.
Pep Guardiola’s champions sit top of our season ticker for defence in the opening six Gameweeks so shutouts should be expected. After a tricky trip to Arsenal in Gameweek 1, Huddersfield, Newcastle and Fulham are all set to visit the Etihad Stadium with trips to Wolves and Cardiff in Gameweeks 3 and 6 respectively.
ON THE MENDY
Mendy will be ahead in his pre-season development compared to everybody else. Even though he only registered 40 minutes in Russia, the training he did there with France was effectively his pre-season and because he missed so much time with the injury, his body and mind should be in a position to head back to training with his club and then competitive action without feeling burned out.
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Mendy was brought to Man City last season to be the first-choice left-back and the Frenchman looks set to make that position his own, especially in the early weeks of 2018/19. The late returns to training of Danilo and Fabian Delph (£5.5m) means that the only cover for the left of defence will be Oleksandr Zinchenko (£5.0m), who may not be at the club anymore by Gameweek 1 with transfer reports linking him elsewhere. Those factors should ensure very little rotation on Mendy’s part to begin with, as he is already with the main training group in the USA.
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