Former Manchester City defender Benjamin Mendy has signed for Ligue 1 side Lorient five days after being cleared of rape.
The left-back, 29, whose City contract expired in the summer, has signed a two-year deal with the French club.
He was cleared at Chester Crown Court on Friday of raping a woman and attempting to rape another.
That followed a trial in January when Mendy was cleared of six counts of rape and one of sexual assault.
Mendy became the world’s most expensive defenderwhenCity paid Monaco £52m to sign the France defender in 2017.
City’s director of football Txiki Begiristain described him as “one of the world’s best full-backs” when the highly rated defender joined the club.
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 the re-trial at which he was acquitted last week.
The portrait painted of him during the case led to 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 play at Bournemouth in a pre-season friendly on 5 August and will begin their league campaign at champions Paris St-Germain on 13 August.