Nampalys Mendy: Five facts on the Newcastle's potential Tiote replacement

Cheick Tiote

With Newcastle United reportedly rekindling their interest in the 22-year-old midfielder, Jack Beresford unearths five stories on the Nice player.

Newcastle United have seemingly lined up a replacement for Cheick Tiote, should the Ivory Coast international ultimately depart St James’ Park in the immediate future.

Captain of the France under-21 team, Nampalys Mendy comes highly rated and could soon be set to make his bow in the Premier League, amid reports Newcastle are scouting the midfielder.

So what should Toon fans know about the man once dubbed the new Makelele? Read on for the lowdown on the 22-year-old.

Mendy was a chance discovery by AS Monaco

Recruited to the ranks of the Principality Club as a teenager in 2007, in truth, Mendy’s arrival was fortuitous to say the least with Monaco scout Christophe Didier coming upon the midfielder by accident during a trip to watch another player at sixth-tier French side RC Toulon club.

Speaking in an interview with a Planete ASM, Didier recalled: "He came for testing with the RC Toulon club. Its leaders had told me he was there to make the numbers.

“When it came to evaluating its technical qualities ... He mastered all. In the game, he was conspicuous by his placement, his intelligence, his understanding of the actions. "

Monaco signed him up on the spot, with Mendy spending three years in the team’s youth academy before moving up to the first team from 2010.

The 2010 World Cup gave him his big break

Mendy’s luck didn’t end in 2007 either, with the midfielder once again proving to be the beneficiary of some good fortune three years later as Monaco began preparations for the 2010-11 season.

It had been a busy summer with the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and then-manager Guy Lacombe (pictured above) was concerned that many of his squad would be experiencing fatigue following a hectic schedule of games at the tournament.

As a result, the likes of Diego Perez, Nicolas N’Koulou and Lukman Haruna were given extended breaks to recover from their exertions. Mendy and several other youngsters, meanwhile, were called up for a pre-season training camp as well as several friendlies.

Mendy seized his opportunity with both hands, impressing enough to gain a permanent promotion to the senior team and the number 24 shirt. He made 14 Ligue 1 appearances that term, starting five of the first six games in the league, including an impressive full 90 minute debut against Lyon.

Monaco may not be where they are now without him

Despite boasting riches beyond the wildest dreams of most clubs at this present moment in time, the reality is that Monaco fans have endured some pretty dramatic highs and lows over the past decade or so to rival even the most ardent of football supporters.

Champions League finalists in 2004, the Principality Club endured several lean years in the wake of that appearance, culminating in a shock relegation from Ligue 1 at the end of the 2010/11 that left many questioning whether the club would ever return.

Demotion to the second tier saw several big names depart Monaco in search of top-flight football, but one man who stayed and thrived at the club was Mendy.

The 22-year-old featured 28 times for Monaco during their first season in Ligue 2 – a time when there was no hint of a takeover by any Russian billionaire – and even when they failed to bounce back immediately he remained and  helped steer the club back up at the second time of asking.

That latter season proved to be Mendy’s making, with the defensive midfielder featuring 36 times for the Principality Club, alongside Newcastle new boy Emmanuel Riviere, as the team made a triumphant return to Ligue 1 under former Chelsea manager Claudio Ranieri.

Mendy favours playing time over prestige

While a return to the big time, coupled with the arrival of a newly rich owner in Dmitry Rybolovlev, would have been enough to convince most players to remain at their current club, Mendy opted to take an alternative path and see out his Monaco contract to leave on a free.

In part influenced by the big-money arrivals at the Stade Louis II and a breakdown in negotiations over a new deal, Mendy primarily chose to move to Nice for footballing reasons and the chance to work with the club’s manager Claude Puel.

"I had other offers, but I did not want to rush things. I want, with my agent and my family, a well established career,” he explained in an interview at the time

"I want to play and continue to grow. Everything is clear in my head ... Claude Puel likes to advance the players and especially to trust young people. I'm sure I will progress with him and get my chance on the field."

Newcastle fans beware – he dreams of Manchester United

Back when Mendy was being touted across Europe as one of the stars of tomorrow, having impressed for France at under-17, under-18, under-19, under-20 and under-21 level, the defensive midfielder remained steadfast in his insistence that he wanted to play in Ligue 1.

But that didn’t stop the Frenchman from having a ‘dream’, though Newcastle fans may not like the ‘dream’ Mendy had and may still harbour – of one day playing for Manchester United.

Speaking in an interview with lequipe.fr back in 2013, the 22-year-old elaborated: "It's encouraging. They're [Manchester United] the club of my dreams. It proves that I've done some good things, but I want to stay in France.”

Sign for Newcastle come January and, should he impress, then Old Trafford could yet beckon.

Here are some of Mendy's best bits for Nice - can he replace Tiote?

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