Loic Remy: Everything QPR Need To Know About Marseille's Electric Striker
Loic Remy is a name that regularly fills the newspaper gossip columns, as he has long been linked with a move to England. A summer deadline day move to Chelsea collapsed due to the Blues’ inability to sell Daniel Sturridge to Liverpool, whilst Spurs were credited with a strong interest after selling Luka Modric gave them substantial funds, but nothing materialised there, either. Whilst Tottenham did sign Clint Dempsey, he’s not really a natural striker, so the chances of both clubs reigniting their interest in January is possible, along with interest from Liverpool and Newcastle. Now QPR have tossed their hat into the ring of potential suitors, with manager Harry Redknapp having flown out to watch Remy play in the French Cup this past weekend.
A product of Lyon’s youth academy, he featured sporadically for the first team before a loan spell at Lens for the second half of the 07/08 season gave him regular first team football, where he impressed, and it was expected he would return to Lyon and play there. So it was a surprise when he joined Nice for €8m in the summer 2008, which was a club record transfer fee. It was the perfect move for him, though, as he became the focal point of their attack and prospered there for two seasons before joining southern rivals Marseille for €15m in the summer of 2010.
As if his price tag wasn’t enough pressure to deal with, he had big shoes to fill as he was signed, along with Andre-Pierre Gignac, as the replacement for Mamadou Niang, Marseille’s prolific star striker who was sold to Fenerbache a few days earlier, much to the dismay of the fans. Plus, he wasn’t even Didier Deschamps’ preferred choice – DD wanted to sign either Alberto Gilardino or Luis Fabiano – but the choice of Jose Anigo, l’OM’s sporting director who had been at loggerheads with Deschamps over the club’s transfer policy.
Whilst Gignac was plagued by injuries and issues over his weight, struggling to find the form he showed at Toulouse, Remy settled in well. Often playing in a wide role to accommodate other players in the side, his pace and strength, coupled with his eye for goal, made him a real threat coming in from the flanks, and he started to become a regular in the national side. Finishing the season with 17 goals in 41 appearances was an impressive return, especially when considering he wasn’t always played through the middle.
Last season Remy improved on that, despite l’OM having by far their worst season under Deschamps, finishing tenth in Ligue 1. That he managed to score 20 goals in 42 games last season is testament to his undoubted ability, as Marseille completely imploded in the second half of the season and went on a 13 game winless run between February and May. Many goals he scored where from chances he had to create himself, and there was little supply from the midfielders, particularly in the wake of Lucho Gonzalez’s absence in January. His performances proved that he was developing his all around game and becoming the complete centre forward.
Unfortunately, Remy missed Euro 2012 with a thigh injury he picked up at the end of last season and his absence was certainly felt by Les Bleus, as his physicality and directness offered an effective change of pace to Karim Benzema. With Didier Deschamps, who coached Remy for the past two seasons at Marseille, replacing Blanc as the France manager, Remy will likely continue to play a prominent role in the squad. The injury also kept him out of pre-season and, coupled with the good form of the resurgent Andre-Pierre Gignac, has prevented him from making a start for l’OM this season.
It is easy to see why he is coveted by several English clubs as he possesses all the desirable attributes you look for in a modern day forward, and his style of play is perfect for the Premiership. His pace makes him a real threat when playing on the shoulder of the last defender, whilst he is a threat in the air, making him effective when playing against both the bigger teams who will look to attack, and the smaller teams who will focus on defending. His versatility is important, too, particularly for teams who don’t play with two up front, so his ability to effectively play in both of the wide forward roles as well as through the middle is an invaluable trait to have.
He’d reportedly cost £12m, which isn’t much of a profit on the €15m that Marseille paid for him when he was relatively unproven at the highest level, but means he is a much more affordable option than most other established forwards playing in the major European leagues. At 25 he’s still got plenty of scope for improvement and he hasn’t actually played that much football in his career (under 200 games) so there is no danger of him burning out early like a Fernando Torres or Michael Owen. It’s extremely likely that we’ll see him plying his trade in England, if not in January, then next summer.