Former Manchester City defender Benjamin Mendy has joined Ligue 1 side Lorient just five days after being acquitted of rape charges. The 29-year-old left-back, whose contract with Manchester City expired in the summer, signed a two-year deal with the French club.
In January, Mendy was cleared of six counts of rape and one count of sexual assault in a trial. Following another trial last week, he was cleared of raping a woman and attempting to rape another, leading to his acquittal.
Mendy had become the world’s most expensive defender when Manchester City signed him from Monaco for £52m in 2017. He won the Premier League and the 2018 World Cup with France during his successful career.
Although his City contract had ended, Mendy had not played competitive football since August 2021, when he appeared for City against Tottenham Hotspur. After his arrest in August 2021, he was in custody for five months before his first trial.
The legal case had a profound impact on Mendy, with his legal team stating that “life, as he knew it, is over, in football in the UK.”
After his acquittal, several high-profile players, including Memphis Depay and Vinicius Jr, expressed support for Mendy on social media.
Lorient, who finished 10th in Ligue 1 last season, announced his return to French football, celebrating his achievements: “Benjamin Mendy, world champion 2018, quadruple winner of the Premier League under the colors of Manchester City and French champion of Ligue 1 with Monaco, comes to reinforce the Lorient workforce for this new season. Welcome Benjamin.”
Lorient is scheduled to play a pre-season friendly against Bournemouth on August 5 and will begin their league campaign against champions Paris St-Germain on August 13.