Scouting Report: Is Marseille's Benjamin Mendy Perfect for Manchester United?

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Scouting Report: Is Marseille's Benjamin Mendy Perfect for Manchester United?
Claude Paris

Manchester United want to sign Marseille left-back Benjamin Mendy, per France Football (h/t talkSPORT), so here is a scouting report on Mendy, a 19-year-old French youth international. 

 

Overview

Two years ago when Mendy was a 17-year-old prospect at Le HavreArsenal were gunning for his signature.

"There was interest from a lot of clubs. I know Arsenal were one," Mendy said, per L'Equipe (h/t Patrick Haond at Sky Sports). "After Le Havre, I would like to spend two seasons in Ligue 1 and then go to England. I would then like to go to Barcelona, where my idol Dani Alves plays."

Le Havre is a modest French club consistently punching above its weight in terms of producing talent good enough to be poached by bigger clubs: Zacharie Boucher (Toulouse, 2014), Ryan Mendes (Lille, 2012), Gueida Fofana (Lyon, 2011), Didier Digard (Paris Saint-Germain, 2007), Steve Mandanda (Marseille, 2007), Lassana Diarra (Chelsea, 2005), Charles N'Zogbia (Newcastle United, 2004), Vikash Dhorasoo (Lyon, 1998), et al

In the last summer transfer window, Sunderland agreed on a transfer fee with Le Havre for Mendy. 

"There is an agreement between Sunderland and Le Havre," Mendy said, per Chris Young at the Sunderland Echo. "But between Sunderland and me, there is still nothing."

A fortnight later, Marseille announced the signing of Mendy from Le Havre, per UEFA.com

Looking back, Mendy avoided Paolo Di Canio's short and fiery "management by hand grenade" reign, and his replacement, Gus Poyet, has since sunk Sunderland to the bottom of the Premier League. 

Mendy is splitting time at left-back with Jeremy Morel, who started 36 of Marseille's 38 Ligue 1 games last season. 

 

Positives

Mendy is a 6'1" and 165-pound left-back with solid physical tangibles.

He is listed by French Football Weekly as one of the best talents in France.  

Source: FrenchFootballWeekly.com.

Mendy is an offensive-driven defender who moves fluidly and frequently finds himself in advantageous attacking positions as was the case against Guingamp

Source: Ligue1.com.

Mendy has created more goals (four) in league play than midfield teammates Andre Ayew (three) and Florian Thauvin (three). 

Against Bordeaux, Mendy powered his way through on goal, dragged centre-back Henrique and goalkeeper Cedric Carrasso out of position, then unselfishly set up Marseille centre-forward Andre-Pierre Gignac for a tap-in. 

Source: Ligue1.com.

Mendy is comfortable taking on players like Sochaux right attacking midfielder Roy Contout, who he fooled with a drag-back. Mendy then crossed accurately to Thauvin, who headed it home. 

Source: Ligue1.com.
Source: Ligue1.com.

 

Negatives

Mendy's defending this season has been subpar. 

In terms of Marseille players who have played 10 league games or more this season, Mendy is ninth in tackles per game (1.7), which is significantly less than Ayew (2.7). 

Mendy was 0-for-5 in successful tackles against Evian Thonon Gaillard, per Squawka.com.

Source: Squawka.com.

Mendy failed to make a tackle against PSG and Reimsper Squawka.com.

Source: Squawka.com.
Source: Squawka.com.

When you watch how easily Mendy was beaten by Nantes right attacking midfielder Serge Gakpe and Bordeaux right-back Mariano, it is worrying.

Source: Ligue1.com.
Source: Ligue1.com.

It gives you a snapshot of why Mendy's tackles per game average is not higher than 1.7 and why he has spent parts of the season backing up Morel. 

Mendy's defensive lapses are rooted in his inability to react quickly. This was on show in a play against Toulouse.

Once Mandanda moved forward to challenge for the ball, Mendy, who was on the right post, should have slid over. 

Toulouse centre-back Serge Aurier got to the ball first and headed it into an empty net.

Source: Ligue1.com.

Mendy's situational awareness when defending without the ball has to improve.

His constant defensive miscues may explain why he was not highlighted as an all-tournament player by the UEFA technical observers at the 2013 UEFA European Under-19 Championship or an outstanding player by the FIFA technical study group at the 2011 FIFA U-17 World Cup. 

He played 432 minutes over the two tournaments, so he had enough time to showcase his talents.

  UEFA U-19 FIFA U-17
     
French Players Selected Adrien Rabiot Abdallah Yaisien
  Anthony Martial Adrien Tameze
  Antoine Conte Yassine Benzia
  Aymeric Laporte  
  Yassine Benzia  
     
  Source: UEFA.com Source: FIFA.com
     

 

Bottom Line

Mendy has upside as a 19-year-old, but he is not ready for United right now. 

Patrice Evra's career is an example of how swiftly a player can improve, so United should continue to track Mendy's career and re-evaluate him next season. 

 

@allanjianga

Statistics via WhoScored.com

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