Top Ligue 1 Goalkeepers 2018/19: Edouard Mendy

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Edouard Mendy might not be a household name even in France but the goalkeeper who keeps command for Reims in Ligue 1 has, by his standards, had an interesting season after finally breaking through to first team football in the last couple of years.

Mendy had spent time in the lower national leagues of France and then was taken on for Marseille’s B team but at age 24 it seemed that Mendy’s career was in trouble, that is when Reims decided to take a chance on the shot stopper who hails from Normandy.

Mendy helped Reims win Ligue 2 and was rewarded when the team decided to keep him, mostly because of his chemistry with the back four. He has rewarded Reims by being statistically one of the best goalkeepers in the league this season.

In the fantasy rankings Mendy ranks as 4th finishing on 59 points and only 3 behind PSG’s goalkeeper Alphonse Areola. Mendy would have cost 8m to add to your team. What has been terrific about Mendy’s season is he went the whole 9 months without missing a game in the league and played all 38. Though he conceded 42 goals he also kept  a highly impressive 14 clean sheets- that’s the 3rd best record in the league. He was booked 3 times which is easily the most from the top 10 keepers in the league.

Overall Mendy finished in 16th place if we take into account all goalkeepers in the major European leagues. So what went well for the goalkeeper during the season, and not so well?

Mendy started the season in terrific form picking up 14 points from his first two games as Reims beat Nice and Lyon and kept clean sheets on both occasions. However in his 3rd game Amiens shocked Reims by beating them 4-1 and that earned Mendy -6 points and this was repeated a further two times during the season. Less goals conceded would have seen Mendy easily finish in third place.

His best period was from the end of September until the beginning of December where from 5 games he scored points in four of them and walked away in that time frame with 28 points.

Mendy and Reims started to fall away from springtime after having a decent shout at finishing in an European place. His final 7 games were average indeed, this despite earning a couple of clean sheets those games earned him -3 points.

In the end Reims blew their European chance and finished in 8th place on 55 points and 11 points behind European qualification.

However Mendy proved himself in Ligue 1 and has really come up the ranks and it will be interesting to see next season if he continues to grow as a footballer after a tough start to his career.

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How Reims went from Ligue 2 to Top 6 in Ligue 1

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The Stade Auguste Delaune houses one of the most famous and certainly historical team in France in Stade Reims, also known as Reims. This is the club that was made most famous by their 1950s team which included Raymond Kopa and a team that got to 2 European Cup finals only to lose to the infamous Alfredo di Stefano Real Madrid team.

Since then it hasn’t been easy for the club who were promoted back to Ligue 1 in over 30 years in 2012. They spent a few seasons in Ligue 1 before being relegated again and this season marks the clubs first back in 3 years. They won Ligue 2 and then started this campaign off very slowly before hitting their stride in October, surging into the top 10 and quite frankly they haven’t looked back. So what has been the secret for Reims who as the season draws to a close are in the top six teams in France?

Let’s start with the coach first and Reims have had too many coaches in the past decade so it was a surprise when youth team coach David Guion was finally given the job in 2017 when the club were in Ligue 2. Guion has been with Reims in some capacity since 2012, coaching the youth team, the B team then acting as caretaker manager and then taking the job full time two years ago.

He has oversaw a team this season back in Ligue 1 who have lost just 6 games this season and have lost just 1 game in their last 10 matches. which came in midweek against Strasbourg.

But Reims are in 6th place and just 3 points behind 4th and what would be an automatic qualification for next seasons Europa League- there is no doubt that the club have taken massive strides this season. Club ownership should be applauded for giving someone from within the club the job as manager as preferred to an outsider and the decision made so much sense given that Guion has been with the club for so long.

The big money for Reims at the beginning of the season was spent on Ghislain Konan a left back who came from Vitoria in Portugal for £3.6m. The attacking winger Arber Zeneli came for the same fee from Dutch side Heernnveen, and both have had to make their impacts known.

The majority of Guion’s buys though were centred on defence, be it the back four or holding midfielders and he has been able to correctly identify where Reims weakness would be entering Ligue 1 again, for that he should be applauded, plus a total expenditure of just under £14m for what amounts to bringing 8 new players in is very good business in this day and age.

Reims did take a £4m loss in the transfer market, but their buys last summer have been evidently beneficial and they have a game in hand in the league which could see them take 4th place if they can stay consistent. The dream for Champions League football is a little distant right now as they are 10 points from that milestone but at the same time if the club keep on this trajectory then they have every chance to realise that dream.

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