Former Manchester City defender Benjamin Mendy has joined Ligue 1 club Lorient, just five days after being exonerated of rape.
The left-back, 29, signed a two-year contract with the French club after his contract with City expired in the summer.
On Friday, he was found not guilty of raping one lady and attempting to rape another at Chester Crown Court.
Following a trial in January, Mendy was found not guilty of six charges of rape and one count of sexual assault.
When Manchester City paid Monaco £52 million to purchase Mendy in 2017, he became the world’s most expensive defender.
City’s director of football, Txiki Begiristain, described him as “one of the world’s best full-backs” when the highly rated defender signed.
He won the Premier League in his first season with City before being part of the France squad that claimed the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
However, he last played competitive football in August 2021, appearing for City at Tottenham Hotspur.
Mendy was arrested later that month and remanded in custody for five months before going to trial for the first time last August.
Jurors failed to reach verdicts on two counts of rape and attempted rape, prompting a retrial in which he was acquitted last week.
The portrait painted of him during the case led his own legal team, led by Eleanor Laws KC, to state that “life, as he knew it, is over in football in the UK”.
After he was acquitted, several high-profile players, including Netherlands forward Memphis Depay and Real Madrid forward Vinicius Jr., showed their support for Mendy on social media.
Lorient, who finished 10th in Ligue 1 last season, announced Mendy’s return to French football in a statement: “Benjamin Mendy, world champion 2018, quadruple winner of the Premier League under the colours of Manchester City, and French champion of Ligue 1 with Monaco, comes to reinforce the Lorient workforce for this new season. Welcome Benjamin.”
The French club will play at Bournemouth in a pre-season friendly on August 5 and will begin their league campaign at champions Paris St-Germain on August 13.