Having trailed Eden Hazard for a number of years, Real Madrid’s capture of the Belgian consumed much of the transfer market oxygen in the Spanish capital over the summer. Indeed, Hazard’s long-rumoured arrival was most anticipated, most talked about. He was the Galactico they had craved, but Hazard represented just one part of Real Madrid’s squad overhaul.
Around £300 million was spent by Los Blancos in the summer transfer window, with Luka Jovic, Eder Militao and Rodrygo all making the move to the Santiago Bernabeu. Ferland Mendy also arrived from Lyon, signed as Real Madrid’s new long term left-back. At 31, Marcelo is now into the twilight of his career and the Frenchman was identified as his successor.
“I will be his successor,” Mendy said upon his signing to Real Madrid TV, expressing confidence that he would eventually usurp Marcelo as Real Madrid’s first-choice left-back. “He has a lot of time left, but if they've brought me here, it's because they see potential.”
Mendy suffered a difficult start to life in Spain, but is now making good on his promise, holding down a position in Zinedine Zidane’s favoured starting lineup. He has been helped by an injury suffered by Marcelo, keeping him out for a number of weeks over the winter, but the Brazilian will remain on the sidelines even when he is fit again.
The 24-year-old has given Real Madrid another dimension. Mendy is an attacking outlet down the left-wing in much the same way Marcelo has been for the past decade or so, but unlike the Brazilian, he is more defensively adept. Marcelo’s weakness was always that he often left his teammates exposed at the back. Many managers bargained that his quality going forward made this a bargain worth making, but with Mendy Real Madrid no longer have to make that bargain.
It’s no coincidence that Thibaut Courtois and Raphael Varane, in particular, are playing with more confidence and self-assurance than ever before. Real Madrid have kept a clean sheet in four of the last five matches they have played and Mendy has started every one of them, coming off 19 minutes from the end of the one game they conceded in. It was only with Mendy off the pitch that Valencia scored.
This season has been a transitional one for Real Madrid as they move into a new era in Zidane’s second stint at the club. The capital club are building momentum having left behind the inconsistent performances of the early part of the campaign. Zidane is now starting to settle on a team that works for the club’s future and Mendy is a big part of it. Just as he said himself, he is Marcelo’s successor.