Manchester City: What does the future hold for Benjamin Mendy?

With £52 million Benjamin Mendy in horrid form, questions must be asked about his long-term future with Manchester City.

The weakest individual position of Manchester City’s rocky start to their Premier League campaign has not been central defense, but rather left-back. Against Wolves, Leicester City, and Leeds United, Benjamin Mendy was routinely targeted to great degrees of success for the opposition, and City could easily have left with no points from their first three matches on the balance of play.

Everyone involved at the club wants Mendy to be successful given the tremendous amount paid for him. However, the signs are quickly becoming apparent to everyone that he is simply not up to it as a first-choice player at the club. A laundry list of injuries since arriving in England could be partially responsible, but today he looks slow and clunky, further exposing his already-terrible positional awareness and tackling ability.

Without the athleticism that was on full display for Monaco, City appear to be left with a shell of a player, and perhaps, the next Eliaquim Mangala. In the immediate, he should be taken out of the team at the first opportunity for João Cancelo, who is now fit. I believe Cancelo should be given the role full-time to build consistency within the backline unless poor performances merit otherwise, but I doubt this will be the case. As for Mendy, he will compete with Oleksandr Zinchenko, who should currently be ahead of him, to serve as Cancelo’s backup.

He could still feature in cup fixtures, but any Premier League teamsheet with Mendy on it should be a frightening sight for City fans at this point. This is a far cry from the brilliant player City saw firsthand in the Champions League against Monaco and his early days in Manchester, but whether it is down to injuries or simply a player being overrated, the reality is clear.

City seem more keen to move on Zinchenko rather than Mendy, although this could be out of necessity. Mendy’s wages and performances will make him extremely difficult to move, while Zinchenko is versatile and available on a reasonable price. Therefore, as for the long-term future, I believe the club would be best served by first trying to sell Mendy at the right price, and if a deal cannot be done, loan him out to another English club.

I currently believe that given the player’s age, City should try to generate £20-25 million. While this is a massive loss on the fee paid for the player, it will go a long way in terms of a replacement. At that price, City can essentially perform a straight swap for Nicolás Tagliafico. Pep Guardiola and the board have backed the player at every turn, so I believe that this is not the most likely scenario. Rather, out of wanting to not look like they made a mistake, I believe Mendy will continue to regularly feature as the team hope he improves.

City have been content to settle for “good enough” in their transfer policy rather than looking to show real ambition and edge. The club is fine keeping the much-maligned İlkay Gündoğan, despite the fact that a sale or swap of the German could have made a move for Thiago Alcântara, a much better player in nearly every sense, available essentially for nothing. I believe Mendy will be another example, but if the club do show continued faith, I genuinely hope we will once again see the dynamic talent he once possessed.