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Loïc Rémy – Chelsea’s French va va voom

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Steve Bardens

The summer transfer window has firmly slammed shut with clubs resorting to literally last minute acquisitions (see Manchester United and Arsenal as prime examples) with Chelsea bucking the trend this season doing the majority of their business even before a ball had even been kicked in Brazil. Astute signings of Cesc Fàbregas, Diego Costa and Filipe Luís have given us greater depth and more importantly quality in the starting XI but this has come at a cost with club legends such as Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole moving onto pastures new in the twilight of their trophy- laden careers at the Bridge. One more position needed to be fulfilled with the departure of all 4 strikers on Chelsea’s books last season. Lukuku and Eto’o have made Goodison Park their home, whilst Demba Ba plans on scoring goals (hopefully finding Turkey’s own version of Steven Gerrard) with Besiktas, which left us with just Torres, who departed the club after a difficult but trophy success career at Chelsea for Serie A at AC Milan for 2 years on loan. So who exactly is Loïc Rémy? The 27 year old began his career for his hometown club, Olympique Lyonnais, however, due to OL’s supreme dominance in Ligue 1 (8 league titles in a row) found it hard to command a starting spot with established strikers already at the Rhône-Alpes club.

After a successful loan move to Lens, he was sold to Nice where he netted 28 times in 74 games, which caught the attention of Olympique de Marseille who wanted the Frenchman to lead the line for Nice’s rivals in August 2010. A deal had been struck, however, in recent months the British media have only realised that Rémy ‘failed’ his 1st medical examination due to heart defect, a small hole in his heart we’re lead to be believed. The deal was off the table as a result but only a few days later, a new deal had been agreed but insurance costs and wage structure had been amended in order for the transfer to take place. Rémy proved to be a success at a struggling Marseille where he almost had a 1 in 2 goal to game ratio.

Cast your mind back to August 2012. Chelsea have won the Champions League and our match winner, Didier Drogba, has left the club (only to return this summer), leaving us with an unhappy Torres and Sturridge vying for the striker’s position. The story goes that on deadline day that summer, Chelsea agreed a fee for Loïc Rémy according to Sam Matterface but fell through in the final hours.

Why? There have been several theories as to why he didn’t become a Chelsea player that summer but the most obvious would be that Chelsea were not prepared to take on a player who had a heart defect or that Rémy wasn’t willing to re-negotiate his wages like he had at Marseille or as I suspect Sturridge’s deal to Liverpool, on loan, fell through meaning we couldn’t buy Rémy. Looking back and now in hindsight, it seems a shame that a player who hasn’t shown any signs of an alleged heart defect couldn’t join the club at the time but the club do have a duty of care to their employees so it is understandable why they were unwilling to sign him. Forwards to January 2013 and Rémy has joined QPR who despite his 6 goals in 14 games couldn’t save them from relegation. A loan move to Newcastle beckoned for the Lyonnais where he scored an impressive 14 goals in 27 games (one of those being against Chelsea last November) and has clearly caught the attention of Jose Mourinho who craves a back up striker who can hit the ground running; should Costa be unavailable due to injury or suspension (kneeing defenders in the back mainly).

Is Loïc the Rém(ed)y to our back up striker problem? There are several reasons why Rémy will be a shrewd purchase for the club. Firstly, he has an excellent record in England with 20 goals in 40 games to his name, secondly, he is already based in London, this may seem trivial to many but it makes the process much smoother for him and his family knowing they won’t have to move home. Thirdly, at only 27 he is about to peak in terms of performance which is what Chelsea need for a back up striker who is able to lead the line and play the vast majority of cup games and potentially the penultimate group games in the CL (assuming Chelsea have already qualified top for the knockout stages). In terms of his style of play, Rémy has already reminded me of Thierry Henry, granted he’ll never be on his level but he has a way of gliding along the pitch and his running style is similar to his compatriot. The Frenchman holds up the ball very well and brings other players into play, a good headerer of the ball, can play on either wide position if needed and is a decent finisher. Finally, the transfer fee is a salient issue. Rémy had a release clause whereby any ‘Top 4’ team could activate the £10.5m clause. In these times of FFP, Chelsea’s policy is sell to buy, and it has been commendable with the quality of the signings we’ll been able to bring in this summer despite the departures for the past 2 years. Rémy fits into this new Chelsea stance and I hope to see Loïc become at the club. It is an exciting time to be a Chelsea supporter with the manager whom we all wanted back with a new look squad but more importantly the best XI in the Premier League in my opinion and in the top 3 in Europe. We’ve started well so far, so let this be the season where we’re lifting the Premier League trophy in May!

Bienvenue Loïc et ALLEZ LES BLEUS!