Newcastle’s director of football Joe Kinnear finally made his first major move into the summer transfer market yesterday evening by snapping up Loic Remy on a season-long loan deal from QPR. The 26-year-old Frenchman – who was previously linked with a move to Tyneside last January – revealed his international ambitions played a significant part in the switch, with next summer’s World Cup in Brazil clearly on his radar.
“I’m very happy to be a Newcastle player. It will be a huge honour to play for such a big club. I was very flattered by the Club’s interest in me back in January and also very happy that they showed interest in me again this summer. I am very motivated this year to get into the World Cup squad for my country. I know in order to do that I need to have a big season and a successful campaign with Newcastle United. I am focussed on helping the team achieve success this season and scoring as many goals as I can.”
A product of the Lyon youth academy, Remy’s career began in 2006 but the forward failed to establish himself as a first-team regular, making just 12 appearances over a season and a half at the club. Farmed out on loan to Lens midway through the 2007/08 campaign, Remy produced three goals and two assists in 10 matches, with his eye for goal persuading Nice to fork out a club record €8m in June 2008.
Remy’s impact was immediate in his new surrounds, with 11 goals and three assists in 32 appearances across his debut season before he racked up 14 goals and five assists in 34 matches the following year. After scoring once in two matches at the start of 2010/11, he was transferred to Marseille for €15m, though he was forced to undergo stringent medical tests after an initial assessment indicated he was suffering from a heart defect. Having been given the all-clear, Remy flourished in his first couple of league campaigns, producing 27 goals and 10 assists from 60 Ligue 1 matches but his final season at the club was far less successful. Demoted to the bench, he made just two starts and 12 sub appearances, notching a single goal, before QPR came calling back in January.
Despite dropping down to the Championship at the end of last term, Remy was quick to settle at Loftus Road. Although he turned out just 14 times for Harry Redknapp’s side, he still managed to finish the season as the R’s top scorer, having found the net on six occasions.
Remy has also represented his national side on 18 occasions and has produced four goals and an assist for Les Bleus.
Undoubtedly, the Magpies are in dire need for extra firepower for the season ahead. Alan Pardew’s side scored just 19 goals in 18 games following Demba Ba’s departure to Chelsea back in January and found the net in only three of their final eight league matches, ironically clinching their league safety in a 2-1 win over Remy’s QPR in Gameweek 37.
Having failed to get his man first time around, Pardew was clearly delighted to finally clinch the Frenchman’s signature and his words suggest the new boy will be regarded as a key player for the Magpies in the upcoming campaign:
“Loic is a great player and I’m delighted that Joe has got him on board for us. He’ll be a great addition to the squad, he gives us strength and pace up front and I’m sure he’ll bring plenty of goals. It’s a big season for Loic, like it is for all our international players ahead of the World Cup, which will only provide extra incentive for him to play at the very top of his game.”
Pardew’s formation for the season ahead will be key as to how we assess the new boy’s potential. The Magpies boss has utilised 4-2-3-1 and 4-4-2 systems over the summer so far, though a 4-3-3 also looks viable, with Remy perhaps fielded on the right and Hatem Ben Arfa on the opposite flank, allowing Papiss Cisse to retain the lone forward slot. Ideally, though, a central berth is clearly the best scenario – a reverse out of position role out wide will dent Remy’s appeal, with Ben Arfa or even Moussa Sissoko appearing on our radars, should the latter get his wish and return to the role in “the hole” behind Cisse.
Priced at 7.8 in the Sky Sports game and 3.0 by The Sun Dream Team, Remy has been handed a price of 7.5 in Fantasy Premier League (FPL) earlier this afternoon – less than Cisse’s 8.5 yet more than Yoan Gouffran at 6.5 amongst Newcastle’s frontline options. One factor which may fall in his favour could be spot-kick duties; with Ba now departed and Cisse failing to impress from the spot, Remy may vie with Ben Arfa in the penalty pecking order.
Looking at the opening schedule, while a Gameweek 1 trip to City is far from favourable, Newcastle’s following four fixtures (WHM, FUL, avl, HUL) offer plenty reason to be optimistic. The downside, however, is Remy is currently struggling with a calf complaint and, while Pardew is still hopeful he will make the bench in time for the season opener at the Etihad, the Magpies boss has also admitted he is still on the lookout for more options up front, with the club still linked with a bid for Lyon’s Bafetimbi Gomis.
While there’s no doubt a role alongside Cisse would make Remy a viable alternative, it may take a few weeks until we are afforded a proper assessment of his potential. With a lack of pre-season training and more new signings perhaps imminent, it’s yet to be established whether Remy has been earmarked for a wide role – such a scenario would prove a major deterrent, with far more secure, central options in the mid-price bracket elsewhere.