When Ferland Mendy arrived at Actual Madrid in 2019, he knew he had a battle on his arms.
If the wideman was to determine himself as the primary alternative left-back on the Bernabeu, he must unseat a veritable membership legend in Marcelo.
The Brazil worldwide has change into an establishment at Actual since arriving on the membership from Fluminense in 2007.
Since then, he’s remodeled 350 league appearances, and gained all there may be to win at membership stage, together with 5 Spanish titles, two Copa del Reys, and the Membership World Cup on 4 events.
Most significantly, the Olympic silver medallist has additionally clinched the Champions League 4 occasions, and was a part of the aspect who clinched Actual’s Decima—an achievement that’s unlikely to be matched any time quickly.
Nonetheless, all good issues come to an finish, and at 32, Marcelo can’t go on endlessly.
Since his arrival at Actual, he’s seen off competitors from the likes of Gabriel Heinze, Marcos Alonso, Nacho, Fabio Coentrao, Royston Drenthe and Sergio Reguilon to retain the left-back slot and set up himself as a membership legend.
The arrival of Mendy, nevertheless, certainly sheds gentle on Actual’s long-term future within the place.
Los Blancos parted with £43.2 million to recruit the Frenchman from Olympique Lyonnais, making him—on the time—the second costliest left-back within the historical past of the sport, behind solely Manchester Metropolis’s Benjamin Mendy.
“I will probably be his successor,” Mendy mentioned of Marcelo on the time of his arrival. “He has a whole lot of time left, but when they’ve introduced me right here, it’s as a result of they see potential.”
Ferland has all of the instruments to oust Marcelo completely and even match the Brazilian’s legacy at Actual, changing into a world-class left-back within the course of.
He’s a basic fashionable full-back, able to bursting ahead into the opposition half and influencing occasions within the remaining third, however he’s additionally defensively astute as effectively.
“[He has] a rare offensive potential, distinctive approach and defensive qualities coupled along with his tempo,” mentioned his former coach at Le Havre, Thierry Goudet.
“Briefly, he has the total vary of a contemporary full-back.”
His tempo, as famous by Goudet, is certainly one of his key property—each offensively, as he beats opposition full-backs, and defensively, as he tracks again to cowl areas left behind when Actual push ahead.
Whereas Marcelo initially retained the left-back berth following Mendy’s arrival—the 24-year-old was made to work for his spot—the Frenchman has begun to earn a bigger portion of taking part in time.
He’s already a Spanish champion, having been a part of the staff that gained the title final season, and Los Blancos didn’t lose a single sport that the full-back began final 12 months—testomony to how his presence improves the defence.
Maybe Marcelo nonetheless affords extra going ahead—he’s one of many best attacking left-backs in fashionable soccer’s historical past—however Mendy’s calmness and composure have been huge property to a Actual backline that may be bought at.
Some would reward Actual coach Zidane for his loyalty in direction of Marcelo, whereas others could argue that the World Cup winner has been gradual to just accept the inevitable and combine Mendy into his beginning XI.
Mendy deserves credit score for the way he has knuckled down and sought to enhance his sport to oust Marcelo, and the best way with which he has taken the calls for of that includes for Actual—maybe the world’s largest membership—in his stride.
He’s not often appeared fazed, not often appeared ruffled, not often appeared overawed by the expectation, despite the fact that the capital membership have endured a very testing 18 months.
Thus far this season, Mendy has made 10 appearances to Marcelo’s 5, notably impressing within the 2-0 victory away at Levante, when the hosts failed to deal with his rampaging runs ahead, and the current 2-0 overcome Borussia Monchengladbach within the Champions League.
Within the latter match, Mendy was given the nod forward of Marcelo, and delivered precisely the form of efficiency that Actual required, the place his reliability and defensive focus efficiently neutralised Alassane Plea and helped preserve the German aspect at bay.
It’s too quickly to fully write Marcelo off but, however when the South American ultimately does bid the Bernabeu farewell, Mendy is primed to step into his boots…some would argue he’s already there!