Catalan giants Barcelona will have to fight hard for qualification into the QF of the UCL this season but Ernesto Valverde is already planning for life next season. While he is looking to add to his first team, to help them compete with the best next season, he is also scouting for youngsters who can help the club in the long term.
One such name now doing the rounds is Ferland Mendy.
A product of the academy at Le Havre, Mendy moved to AS Lyon just last summer and took his time to adjust to the needs at Groupama Stadium. But ever since the turn of the year, he has been a regular in the first team and has shown improvement by the game.
He has three assists in 14 league starts this season and also has four UCL appearances, where he was not able to create much for his side. His return of just two goals in 42 Ligue 2 appearances may not be the most attractive but at just 22, the French star is one of the most highly rated full-backs in Ligue 1 at the moment.
A strong and secure defender, whose strength and aerial abilities are right up there with the best in the country, Mendy is a complete full-back, who can not only create chances for his side but shut shop at the back when needed.
He is hard to catch at his marauding best, where he can dribble past opponents with ease while his crosses and passes into the box can open up even the best of the defences in the country. He is prone to errors but will learn with more game time and is surely ready to compete with the best in Europe.
At his age, he is showing great maturity and will be one of the first names on the team sheet for Lyon until the end of the season. However, reports now suggest that Barcelona are set to make a move him at the end of the season.
Stories in Spain reveal that Barcelona were tracking the 22-year old even before Lyon got their hands on him. And it is understood that the Catalan giants have closely monitored his progress over the last few months and are convinced of his ability.
Barcelona have Jordi Alba as their first choice left-back but have not been able to find an able backup in Lucas Digne, who only arrived recently. So they are already in search of a backup for Alba and Mendy is as good an option as any.
He can take his time to get used to conditions in Spain and can learn from the Spaniard, slowly establishing himself at one of the best clubs in Europe. But do you think he is the right man for Barcelona?
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