CHELSEA have continued their remarkable spending spree by adding Edouard Mendy to their squad for £22million.
The giant Senegal goalie, who stands at 6ft 6in tall, has signed a five-year deal and will challenge Kepa Arrizabalaga for the NO1 sport, according to reports.
The deal marks a remarkable turn-around in the life of the 28-year-old stopper.
It was only six years ago that Mendy, the cousin of Real Madrid star Ferland Mendy, was unemployed after his contract expired with French fourth tier side Cherbourg.
And after a deal with a League One club collapsed, it appeared his days as a professional footballer were over.
ON THE SCRAP HEAP
Mendy was just 22 when his deal with Cherbourg expired.
Wanting to take on a new challenge, he was offered contracts by other clubs.
But it was the temptation of moving across the channel to an unknown League One side that seemed the most attractive.
The player's former agent gave him assurances a deal was done, however Mendy soon discovered the job offer didn't work out.
It left the promising talent club-less, unemployed and queuing at the job centre.
Away from the game for the year, Mendy was forced to consider quitting football to do something else.
"For a football player or anybody else, being unemployed is like getting slapped across the face," Mendy told So Foot magazine.
"Repeated failures leave marks on you, and you start thinking that maybe you are not made for it."
With his confidence severely dented, Mendy returned to the club where it all began for him as a youth player, Le Havre.
He trained religiously for a year, unpaid, until a former team-mate told him that Marseille were looking for a goalkeeper to replace reserves Julien Fabri and Brice Samba, who were sent out on loan.
Mendy scored a trial with the 1993 European Cup winners and was signed as a fourth choice keeper.
There, he worked with French international Steve Mandanda and played in the B side.
"I reached a new level in Marseille," he revealed.
"I trained with the pros throughout the year, which you normally would not expect as a No. 4 'keeper.
"It was proof that I performed well and made all the efforts required. It was a rewarding year.
"Training alongside players like Lassana Diarra, Abou Diaby… and winning duels against Steven Fletcher or Michy Batshuayi brought a lot to me."
MAKING OF THE MAN
In search of regular playing time, Mendy moved to Ligue 2 outfit Reims in 2016.
It was time for him to finally make his breakthrough in the game.
When first-choice keeper Johann Carrasso was sent off, Mendy got his opportunity.
Seven games and three clean sheets later, a star was born.
Mendy became first-choice in 2017-18, and helped the club gain promotion to Ligue 1.
RENNES TO CHELSEA
It was only last summer that Mendy signed for Rennes for a fee of £3.5million.
And his rise has been rapid.
He helped his new club finish in the top three in France's top division last season.
More importantly, Rennes qualified for the Champions League thanks to his exploits.
Commanding between the sticks, late-developer Mendy kept nine clean sheets in their incredible season.
In fact, he was so good Chelsea club legend Petr Cech is said to have told the Blues to pull out all the stops to sign him.
Could he be the final piece in the jigsaw to make Frank Lampard's men genuine title contenders?
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