When Ferland Mendy signed for Real Madrid, many expected an uphill battle for him to take the starting spot from Marcelo. Overthrowing a legend is no easy task, however, the Frenchman has done it and deservedly so.
Prior to the start of the season, we covered the pending battle at left-back between Marcelo and Ferland Mendy. The French international signed for Real Madrid as a look to the future, somebody who could take the position eventually. However, he had made the role his before the winter and is deserving of his spot over the legendary Brazilian.
Marcelo has long been a club legend. The Brazilian has been huge for Real during his tenure at the club, having been a player that redefined his position. Whilst he has not always been a defensive stalwart, his brilliance in attack has consistently always been his bail-out, however, his frailties are no longer protected by that.
In Mendy, Zidane has a player who may not be as offensively sound as Marcelo, but he is far better at protecting the left flank than the Brazilian. When delving into the defensive numbers, Marcelo does not better the Frenchman in a single defensive metric – Mendy tackles more with 1.6 per 90 to Marcelo’s 0.9, he makes more interceptions and is dribbled past just 0.2 times per 90, whereas Marcelo is beaten by his opponent 1.6 times per game.
Even though he lacks the same flair as Marcelo, Ferland is no slouch when going forward. He’s completing 2.2 dribbles per 90 compared to Marcelo’s one – whilst he may not be as successful with key passes and crosses, the Frenchman is still maturing as a player and will develop this.
Outside of the individual statistics, it is clear the team looks far more defensively solid with the Frenchman than they do with the Brazilian. In 19 games that he has featured in the league, the team has conceded just 8 goals with Mendy in the back four, with him winning 60% of his one-on-one duels. In the 12 games that Marcelo has featured? The team concede double the amount with 15 in 15 games – the Brazilian also falls behind in his one-on-one duels, winning just 52%.
Historically, Mendy has shown he has the potential to become the very best in his position. During his time as a Lyon player, in his final season, no defender in the European top 5 completed more dribbles than him. He was also playing in 1.4 key passes per 90, whilst he may not have tallied many assists, one must imagine that with the superior supporting cast at Real – he will surely see himself contributing goals if he can improve his final ball.
We’ve already seen this season that the Frenchman is a solid defender, gradually improving in his offensive game. Having notched his first assist in the Madrid derby, Madridista’s will hope this will see him now consistently provide more going forward.
For Marcelo, another sloppy display against Real Sociedad has just further shown his declining state. Between the sloppy giveaways and being defensively exposed – Mendy succeeding the Brazilian is simply one part the ongoing transition at the Bernabéu. Zinedine Zidane is showing that sentiment does not warrant a space in the starting eleven. Marcelo may be a club legend but the fact of the matter is, Ferland Mendy warrants his spot based on his performances and starting him is the right decision from the coach.