Is the Frenchman’s arrival part of Harry’s magic fix or the epitome of January desperation?
Premier League relegation candidates Queens Park Rangers have confirmed the signing of Loic Remy from Ligue 1 title chasers Marseille. It had emerged over the weekend that Newcastle had agreed a fee with the French side and that a deal was close only for the league’s bottom club to hijack the move.
But should the Toon Army really be that disappointed at missing out and should hoops fans be getting excited that Remy could be the key to survival? The forward’s form in the first half of the season certainly suggests not.
The January market is constantly referred to as over-inflated and the transfer of forwards in particular often points to clubs willing to spend big and take risks in search of a magic fix. Forwards score goals, goals win games and that is ultimately the difference in who gets relegated and who qualifies for Europe. A couple of winters ago this striker shuffling reached a crescendo with the huge deadline day deals involving Fernando Torres and Andy Carroll.
Loic Remy’s solitary league goal this season in 14 appearances should do little to alleviate the relegation concerns of the QPR faithful. A club record £8 million has been spent on a player who is badly out of form and surely this is a sign that Harry Redknapp is gambling and gambling big-time. Remy also arrives at the age of 26 and is a player who Premiership clubs have been linked with for several seasons. Interesting that it is only now, mid-season, that a deal has been agreed to take the France international to the premiership and also that it appeared only to be the bottom side and another who had just lost a forward against their will, that were in the chase.
It’s also worth questioning the former Lyon and Nice man’s decision in picking QPR over Newcastle. Granted Harry Redknapp may have been a factor, there is the opportunity to live in London and Rangers are showing signs of revival but which team is more likely to be in the Pemiership next season? Is Remy merely looking to put himself in the shop window?
Maybe this is unjustified apprehension and the 26 year old is to be believed when he says he is looking forward to the challenge. He also mentions that he spoke to both Redknapp and owner Tony Fernandes at length and that they gave him “the right motivation to play for QPR”. Is that motivation the challenge of avoiding relegation and progressing form there or is it merely superior wages to those offered by Newcastle?
Regardless of his poor form and the reasons behind his choice of club, Remy has got some credentials to justify his transfer fee. Last season he scored close to a goal every two games for l’OM and those exploits helped him extend his tally of France caps to 17. He also has a previous track record of hitting the ground running. He scored six times in his first seven games during his spell at Nice. If he could replicate that it would help the survival fight no end. He has also bagged a couple of goals in the Europa League this year.
These stats suggest that the striker has the ability to make Harry’s gamble pay off and although the signing appears a little desperate at present, Redknapp usually gets things right when it comes to the transfer market.
What next though for Newcastle’s hit-man hunt? There is a definite air of disappointment around the failure to retain the services of top scorer Demba Ba and Alan Pardew will be keen to ensure the window doesn’t close before he can bag a replacement. Last season the January arrival of Papiss Cisse in the Northeast had an immediate impact on the club’s fortunes and while a similarly successful signing might be unrealistic Newcastle’s current plight dictates that a deal must be done. Peter Odemwingie is thought to be available at the right price and journeyman Darren Bent is known to be keen on another move. The movement of strikers though in January is akin to the toppling of dominos and clubs are rarely keen to do business until they have a replacement ready.
By Francis Johnston