Almost as soon as the summer transfer window shut, talk has been about who would be moving where in January. One of the many talked about transfers has been about Demba Ba leaving Newcastle, the £7m release clause, the worst kept secret in football and apparent discussions, revelations, or ‘come get me pleas’ depending on how you wish to sensationalise a story, with the French media leading many to assume Arsenal may be his club come January.
To replace the half-season superhero Ba, Newcastle, amongst other Premier League teams have been linked with our very own French international striker, Loic Remy. Ignoring the financial issues in such a transfer and turning a blind eye to any suggested player swaps, possibly Gabriel Obertan or Sylvain Marveaux, let’s look at what Marseille would be losing and what Newcastle, or any other team, would gain.
Loic Remy is a striker who began his professional career at Lyon. During the 2007-2008 season, he was loaned out to RC Lens where he managed to net 3 times in 10 games. This brought about a permanent move to Nice where an increase in first team action saw him net 11 times in his first season and 16 times in his second. Remy joined les phocéens at the beginning of the 2010-2011 season, for around £15m where he went on to net a career best 17 times, including 2 in the Champions League. Last season Remy confirmed his place amongst Ligue 1’s best strikers as he found the back of the net 22 times demonstrating a solid consistency.
Unfortunately for Remy his start to this season has saw him struggle with injuries, form and most importantly the confidence that he has demonstrated in the past. Since the summer Remy has only managed 90 minutes in 3 games, making mainly late substitute appearances on returns from niggling injuries.
Supposing Remy manages to shake off these injuries, builds up some confidence and starts finding the goal again, how will he do it? Without a doubt, one of Remy’s major strengths is his aerial power. Despite being just over 6 foot, not the tallest of players, Remy has a very good sense of positioning, and when he has a well-established partnership with someone who can cross, he will outmuscle defenders to get a header on goal. This is demonstrated well through his goal against PSG last season, where a deep cross from Azpilicueta was forced home by Remy (Remy PSG goal). At present Newcastle don’t play with wingers who tend to ‘get to the byline, crossing in from tight angles for strikers, so a player like Remy may suit the deep crosses from Davide Santon, Vernon Anita or the dreamboat Cabaye, when he is fit again.
Although he doesn’t possess the most explosive pace, Remy is good at hanging on to the back of defenders or pulling them out of position, allowing other strikers to exploit the space (something Cisse excelled in last season). He often drifts out to the left and if he received the ball he has been known to dribble, cut in and unleash some excellent shots. Again, this could provide its benefits for Newcastle. If Pardew is playing without Santon on the left, Ferguson and Gutierrez often look to offload the ball quickly, usually towards the middle of the pitch or backwards. Remy’s natural drift to the left would give a third stage to attacks down the left, whereby Remy could take the ball on himself or hold up play passing inside further up the field in a more dangerous position allowing the midfield to attack opposition defence 20-25 yards from the goal instead of the current 30+ yards away. (Remy shots and hanging on the last man)
Although they don’t play in exactly the same manner, there are a number of similarities between Demba Ba and Loic Remy. The Mike Ashley mantra of younger, better, cheaper (or buy risky as some people see it), could pay off. Remy, younger? Yes by just over a year. Cheaper? One can only imagine that Remy would not command the same wages as Demba Ba, and I think we can all safely assume he won’t have a £7m buy-out clause in his contract if he were to sign! Better? Hmm. Remy certainly has the ability and potential to make it in most premier league teams, and providing he adapts to the English game quicker than the last infamous French striker NUFC had on their books (Stephane Guivarc’h) he’ll go some way to getting the fans on his side, Remy’s much publicised praising of ‘great fans and a nice full stadium’ already warming Geordie hearts. Ba already boasts an impressive scoring record for last season and is well on his way to improving it this season, so if Remy is bought in as a direct replacement I’d say, better? No. If, however, he can be used to bring Cisse back into his sensational form from the end of last season then he could definitely make up a more productive partnership with Cisse than Ba currently does, thus providing the team with a more productive strike force pairing.
Allez l’OM and Howez NUFC!