Real Madrid: Ferland Mendy excels at what is most important

Real Madrid, Ferland Mendy (Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images)
Real Madrid, Ferland Mendy (Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images) /

There are many reasons for Real Madrid fans to be negative right now, especially in the aftermath of an embarrassing loss to a third-division side in the Copa del Rey. But at times like these, sometimes it’s nice to reflect on a player who does make a positive difference to the club, and left back Ferland Mendy is a man who is easy to underappreciate.

Mendy is one of the only two signings from the 2019 summer transfer window who has truly worked out for Real Madrid. Whereas Luka Jovic and Eder Militao have struggled for playing time while Eden Hazard has had trouble staying healthy, Mendy has been both healthy and a regular staple in the XI. Los Blancos’ dominance with Mendy in the starting XI is well-documented, and while they are not undefeatable when Mendy starts (Athletic Club had something to say about that), they are certainly much better.

The 25-year-old is not a perfect left back, of course. He’s something of a throwback, since he’s one of the few fullbacks who is light years better in defense than in attack. Whereas Marcelo and Tottenham’s Sergio Reguilon, whom Real Madrid have a buy-back clause over, are more regarded for their attacking capabilities, Mendy earns his reputation on rugged defending.

There’s a huge gap between Mendy offensively and defensively. As we saw in the aforementioned Supercopa loss to Athletic Club, Mendy needs to be better offensively. His crossing is poor, he takes bad shots from time-to-time, and he isn’t incisive enough. So Real Madrid can struggle from an attacking perspective, since they ask a lot from their fullbacks in the attack. At the same time, Mendy is an attacking asset in some areas, such as playing simple and accurate passes or beating defenders when carrying the ball up the pitch.

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Ferland Mendy’s defensive numbers for Real Madrid are immaculate

Though there are flaws to his game offensively, Mendy more than makes up for them with his world-class defending. I cannot think of a better defensive fullback in European football than Mendy, and that’s an important asset for Real Madrid. He is like having a center back shutting down the left flank. Mendy loves bumping players off the ball, and he is intelligent at reading the game. He’s also a great tackler who will not be fooled by the best dribblers.

According to, Mendy has been dribbled past just 0.4 times per game this season in La Liga, and he allowed a mere 0.2 dribbles per game in 2019-2020. His career average in all competitions is at 0.3. In the Champions League, Mendy is averaging a whopping 1.8 interceptions and 1.3 tackles per game.

Real Madrid could use an attacking-minded left back to rotate in, as Marcelo will need to be upgraded. Perhaps Reguilon will be that player, or Los Blancos could turn to David Alaba if they have indeed signed him to a contract for the 2021-2022 season. The latter is more sensible, since Reguilon is too good for a backup role.

But notice that I am talking about a player to work in partnership with Mendy. He is the starter, and he is the undisputed starter. Yes, there are flaws to his game, but they are “flaws” and not deal-breakers, even if we are strictly speaking offensively. Because Real Madrid signed Mendy to be a stalwart defender. There is nobody better at stopping opponents from breaking free or winning off the dribble than Mendy, who is rarely ever caught out even on counters.

That’s invaluable to Madrid. When Mendy starts on the left flank, there is a peace of mind among Madridistas that nobody else can match. He is a wall to any attacking player. Mendy excels defensively in all aspects, and that makes him extremely important to Real Madrid.

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At 25, there is room for him to continue improving as an attacking fullback, but Real know that he is primarily here to defend. And they should be more than satisfied with what Mendy has brought to their defense over the past year-and-a-half. After all, he is a huge reason why they won the league title in 2019-2020.