He came on like a hero as a substitute to score the winning goals for Chelsea in the two consecutive games against Hull City and Stoke. Had it not been for the injury, Loic Remy was supposed to line up against his former club QPR on Sunday which made way for Didier Drogba to make it to the starting 11.
The French international joined Chelsea from QPR last summer for a transfer fee of 10.5 million euros. His decision to choose Chelsea over Arsenal, who also showed late interest in the striker during the summer transfer window of 2014, surprised his manager Harry Redknapp. He said
“I got a phone call on the Saturday before the transfer window shut saying that he had done a deal with Chelsea,” said Redknapp. “Arsenal were in for him as well, we had Arsenal and Chelsea trying to sign him and he chose Chelsea.
“I was surprised he went to Chelsea, I thought he’d go to Arsenal. I could see Arsenal, but I couldn’t really see Chelsea because I thought ‘he’s not going to play there’.
“I don’t know what persuaded him to be number two at Chelsea. I thought Arsenal, where he would have played more, would be his move at the time.”
But Remy has always been used to some tough competition for his place in the squad. He started his professional career at Lyon at a time when the French club had Karim Benzema and Brazilian Fred as the two main forwards.
Former Liverpool manager, Gerrard Houllier, handed him his first professional contract during his managerial stint at Lyon. But after Houllier’s departure, the club immediately gave Remy on loan to Lens.
“Some people from the academy and the club didn’t believe in him initially,” said Houllier. “But every time I played with a shadow team or with some young players, the boy always showed something. He always showed some qualities, which I thought were international qualities because he has speed, skill and movement.
“I decided to take Loic with the first-team squad before the 2006/07 season and I remember the captain, Juninho, saying to me ‘Oh boss, he’s good that one. You have to keep him with us’. He played a few games, but then I left the club and, because they didn’t believe in Loic, they put him on loan to Lens.
“After the loan, Lyon sold him to Nice for eight or 10 million Euros and then they wanted to buy him back for 15m Euros. He developed and I always think with young players you have to be patient and he showed that because Lyon realised their mistake after a year.
“He had to believe in himself because some people doubted him at Lyon. He always had to prove himself because we had Benzema and Fred.
“The doubts were over his finishing, he had to improve his accuracy in front of the goal that he did. He’s a very clever, sensitive boy. He listens to what you say, he’s like sponge – he takes everything in, all the details.
“He can beat players, he’s very fast, he’s not bad in the air, he has good, good, good skill and he works for the team – he’s not a problem maker. From Nice, instead of going back to Lyon, he went to Marseille and then moved to England.”
Not many would know that Harry Redknapp tried to bring Remy to Tottenham Hotspurs from Marseille in 2012, but the QPR chairman Tony Fernandes was somehow able to convince and land him at the Loftus Road from Marseille.
“I tried to sign him and met him when I was at Tottenham,” said Redknapp. “I was with him in a hotel and had a meeting for two hours. It was the year we got Louis Saha in when I was looking for a striker. I tried to take Remy.
“It didn’t happen because Marseille were putting the fee up and one or two of the scouts at Tottenham weren’t completely convinced about him. They were a bit negative. I had been over about three times and watched him.
“He was playing wide right in a three at Marseille. I couldn’t say I was totally desperate to get him at Spurs, but every time I went he scored goals off the right. I remember leaving the ground when they were winning 1-0 one night, getting in the taxi to the airport and hearing ‘goal’. Remy got two goals and I said to the taxi driver ‘that’s put another £3m on the fee, we better forget that one!’
“We always thought he would score goals for QPR. Sometimes you don’t see a lot of him, he’s not going to hold the ball up, but he’s a finisher.
“I’ll be honest, Tony Fernandes did the deal. I went over and he really wasn’t keen on coming to QPR to be perfectly truthful. Then Newcastle came in and it looked like he would go there, but Tony got involved and somehow persuaded Remy to come to QPR and give it a go.
In his first season at QPR, he scored a total of 6 goals in 14 appearances throughout. The coming 2013-14 season he was loaned to Newcastle United, where the France international went on to score 14 goals in 26 appearances.
“He’s a nice lad, a very nice lad. He scores goals, no danger. If he’d have stayed at QPR this year with Charlie Austin’s goals, he’d have had the same amount I’m sure, QPR would have been halfway up the table.”
Then in the summer of 2014, before the beginning of 2014-15 season, Remy moved to Chelsea on a 4-year deal at a transfer fee of 10.5 million euros. Redknapp added:
“Like all strikers, he needs a run, he needs to play regularly. If he did that, he would score a lot of goals.
“Costa’s a hard act to follow, but Remy’s movement is good. Fabregas can put balls through for him, Oscar, Willian, Hazard, he’s got quality to slide him in. He makes good runs, he’s quick, he’s on the shoulder and he can score.”
Having played 456 minutes of Premier League football this season, the 28 year old has scored 5 goals and has better conversion rate than Chelsea’s 1st striker Diego Costa and Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney. And now with Costa expected to remain out for a long time due to his injury, Remy has great deal of responsibilities as well as opportunities for himself to showcase his potential, but only when he recovers from his own injury which ruled him out of the QPR game.
But once he is able to pull himself out of it which he must do in a short period of time, then as Redknapp says, he can have a fantastic run of a goalscoring form until Costa recovers, given the right amount of playing time. And if we go by what Houllier and Redknapp as well as his career has to tell, Remy will surely make a mark in his Chelsea career and in their title race this season.
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Edited By: Ojas