East Bengal have strengthened their team at the beginning of their I-League campaign by roping in French defender Bernard Mendy, who played a prominent role in Chennaiyin FC’s triumph in the ISL. The Frenchman confirmed his availability after days of negotiations with East Bengal and will go there on loan from the ISL champions till the end of the season, said East Bengal’s football secretary Santosh Bhattacharya on Tuesday.

While becoming one of the most high profile acquisitions by an I-League outfit in recent times, Mendy will fill up the slot of the fourth foreigner in East Bengal squad. The doughty French international, who played with big European clubs like Paris Saint-Germain, Bolton Wanderers and Hull City, is expected to arrive soon. According to the East Bengal officials, the player may join ahead of the team’s derby encounter against traditional rivals Mohun Bagan on January 23.