Edouard Mendy joined Al-Ahli on Wednesday as the Senegal goalkeeper became the third player to leave Chelsea for Saudi Arabia since the end of the season.

Mendy is reported to have cost Al-Ahli around £16 million ($20 million) after he opted to leave the Premier League club having lost his place to Kepa Arrizabalaga in the second half of last term.

“Welcome Mendy… best goalkeeper in the world,” Al-Ahli posted on social media accompanied by a video clip of the 31-year-old putting pen to paper on his contract.

“Having started his career in the lower tiers of French football – and even spending several months without a club – Mendy rose to the pinnacle of European football with Chelsea,” a statement on Chelsea’s website said.

“A hugely likeable character on and off the pitch, he will always have a place in our history for his significant contributions to our 2021 Champions League triumph.

“For that, and for everything else, we are grateful. Good luck, Edou!”

Mendy helped Chelsea win the Champions League in 2021, but played only once for the club after returning from the World Cup in Qatar last year.

He fell out of favour following Thomas Tuchel’s sacking as Chelsea manager in September, with his successor Graham Potter and then interim boss Frank Lampard both preferring to use Kepa in goal.

It was a shock fall from grace for a player named UEFA’s goalkeeper of the season and FIFA’s best male goalkeeper in 2021.

Mendy joins former World Cup winner N’Golo Kante and Kalidou Koulibaly in swapping Stamford Bridge for clubs in the Saudi Professional League, with the pair having joined Al-Ittihad and Al-Hilal respectively.

Hakim Ziyech, another Chelsea player set to leave this summer, is also understood to be on the brink of moving to the Gulf state after a deal was struck for him to join Al-Nassr.

The Blues are eager to clear as many of their unwanted players out as possible before June 30 so that the sales can be included in financial accounts for 2022/23.

The recent wave of European players lured to Saudi Arabia by the promise of huge salaries was started by Cristiano Ronaldo’s move from Manchester United to Al Nassr in January.

Ronaldo’s former Real Madrid teammate Karim Benzema has joined Kante at Al-Ittihad after the France striker surprisingly opted to quit the Spanish giants.

Last week, Ruben Neves, the 26-year-old Portuguese international, left Wolves for Al-Hilal.

AFP

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