We’ve got a dilemma on our hands right now and it represents probably the first real test of the season. What to do with Benteke? There’s a heap of options available to us without any one standing out… A similarly priced sideways trade to a Lukaku or Bony or upgrading to a Rooney or Suarez. You could go Sturridge but the Suarez factor is a problem. I’m going to delve a bit deeper into another option on the table, Loic Remy.
Loic Remy (7.4m) – 2.0%
Loic Remy has led an interesting journey to Newcastle. After spending his entire career playing in France things didn’t quite go to plan towards the end and had the choice of joining two English clubs. Newcastle, who had just sold Demba Ba and had finished 5th the previous season but weren’t quite living up to expectations at the time. Or QPR, who were promoted to the EPL the previous season but were basically relegated by Christmas. They did however have an open cheque book, but unfortunately not the prestige or pull to attract the players you’d normally associate with such silly money being available. History will show that Loic chose QPR after being “convinced” by Tony Fernandes. He would go on to tell everyone that it was a lengthy conversation followed by a game of FIFA 12 that did the job, but I’m sure the reported 70k per week helped grease the wheels…
During Loic’s time in France he became well known as a poacher with blinding speed and finishing ability. Anyone who watched QPR last season however would agree that they were not the type of team to create many chances for such a player (Taarabt was too busy taking pot shots from 40 yards out) and the fact he scored as many as he did was impressive. Despite the efforts of Loic, QPR were indeed relegated and he was never going to stick around and play down in the Championship. Throughout the summer he was linked to a heap of EPL clubs including Tottenham, Liverpool and Arsenal but he ended up at St James Park… Or Sports Direct Arena or whatever it’s called. From the outside looking in, it seems a good fit. I mean, speaking French is a good start isn’t it?
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Loic was part of a decent generation of young players who learnt their trade at Lyon along with the likes of Benzema and Ben Arfa. He stayed there for a few years without really getting a decent chance before Nice came in for him with a club record 8m Euro bid. It was there where he showcased his talents and put him in the spotlight of world football, but also where his career diverted from the norm. In his last season at Nice, some pissed off supporters abused and spat on some of the players as they were leaving the ground following a poor team performance. He would later come out in the media and slam the fans responsible and threatened to walk out of the club. He would play out the season and interest in his services the following summer was immense.
After being linked to a host of top clubs around Europe the high flying Marseille snared his services for a reported 15m Euros. Shortly after signing on the dotted line however it was announced that he was suffering from a possible heart defect, but was subsequently cleared after further tests. He went on to play a total of 56 games during the 2010/11 season in all competitions (33 in the league), scoring 20 goals (16 league) with 5 assists (4 league). A stat of note, he scored a goal for every 146 minutes he played in the league.
The following season (2011/12) he picked up where he left off. A total of 50 games netted him 24 goals across all competitions. A surprising stat here though is that he was substituted out of nearly half of those games (24). The 2012/13 season didn’t really go to plan however and Loic was on the outer. During the first half of the year he only started 10 out of the 24 games he took part in and was subbed off on 6 of those occasions, only scoring 3 goals in the process. That was when QPR and Newcastle came calling…
Loic Remy’s style of play is very much about scoring from inside the 18 yard area and preferably inside the 6 yard box. This is where Newcastle is going to be a much better fit for him than QPR. Newcastle are always going to be a better attacking unit than QPR and are going to provide more and better opportunities from the likes of Ben Arfa and Cabaye. It’s no coincidence that Newcastle really struggled when Ba left for Chelsea and Cisse in particular. Ba provided a key cog in the attacking third structure that Newcastle thrived with but when he left, often their attacking play lacked direction and discipline. Remy will sit in the middle of the oppositions defence and help keep them well structured, something that Cisse isn’t able to do regularly.
There is a negative however… There always is when a player who has been linked with transfers to a host of major EPL clubs (for a largely nominal fee for a player of his talent) only ends up going to a middle tier club on loan. In May of this year he was arrested, along with two other men, over an alleged gang rape that occurred in London. He’s been rebailed to appear in court again in November. I’m not sure if I’ve got the literary capabilities to provide comment on such a heinous crime, so I won’t… But whilst his guilt is yet to be proven you can’t help but think it will be weighing heavily on his mind and it does put a large risk on picking him up for our FPL teams. Obviously you’d need to trade him out if he’s convicted. He’ll probably still score in jail, but in a completely different way.
With that said… I have taken that risk. If you compare him to players in his price range he stacks up well. For instance he’s got better job security at the moment than Lukaku and Dzeko do, has arguably more goal scoring potential than Lambert and has proven himself in the EPL more than Bony has. Importantly, one of Remy’s career trends is that he goes through goal scoring hot streaks, I’m hoping last week was the first of one of those streaks.