Benjamin Mendy has revealed Pep Guardiola gave him “a little kiss on the head” when the pair first met ahead of the defender’s move to Manchester City.
A Monaco player at the time, Mendy was one of multiple players who impressed as the French club stunned Paris Saint-Germain by winning the Ligue 1 title in the 2016/17 season.
How has Mendy fared under Guardiola? Five things to know…
- Mendy joined City in the summer of 2017 and made some promising early appearances in sky blue.
- However, a knee injury saw him play just eight times across all competition in his debut season.
- He made his return last term but further injuries meant he could only manage 15 appearances.
- Form and fitness issues have prevented Mendy from guaranteeing his spot in the team.
- The Frenchman has played 21 times so far this term.
He subsequently earned a big-money move to Manchester City, with whom – despite only featuring sporadically due to injuries – he has won two Premier League titles.
Speaking to FourFourTwo, Mendy has now revealed all on his first meeting with Guardiola, including details of the Spaniard’s interesting greeting during City’s pre-season tour of the United States.
“I was sitting on a chair, he walked over to shake my hand and then just gave me a little kiss on my head,” Mendy said. “That was a surprise – I wasn’t ready for it…”
The meeting with Guardiola was apparently a mere formality for Mendy; he had his heart set on a move to City when the opportunity to leave Monaco came about.
He added: “I could have gone somewhere else, but I said, ‘No, I want to join Manchester City’.
“I kept asking Monaco’s vice-president [Vadim Vasilyev] what was going on, because I was really excited to go to England.
“I understood there were a lot of things to finalise, but I was left in the middle just waiting for it to happen. Eventually, they came to an agreement and I was so happy.”
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Mendy: “Pep makes you so relaxed”
Mendy went on to praise Guardiola’s tactical nous and man-management skills, a combination of which helped City to come back and beat Real Madrid in the Champions League this week.
“Honestly, though, Pep is just unbelievable,” Mendy said. “Tactically he’s amazing, but it’s also the way he makes you feel.
“He’s the manager but he can be your friend, too. Not a friend like you would go out with all the time, obviously, but you can talk openly and he’ll make you feel good. You aren’t scared to approach him like some managers – he makes you so relaxed.
“That’s good for a player. The way he speaks about football, you feel it; you can see how much he loves it and you want to fight for him. After he’s done, you’re ready.”