Meet the Man United-rejecting Frenchman who can soothe Liverpool's woes
The 60-second story
- Date of birth: May 7, 1987
- Place of birth: Longjumeau, France
- Height: 5ft 11in
- Position: Forward
- Former club(s): Sochaux, Monaco, Roma, PSG
- Current club: Milan (34 apps, 16 goals)
- International: France (24 apps, 2 goals)
Jeremy Menez’s career began at Sochaux in 2004, when he signed professional terms with the club from the east of France aged 16. He made his first-team debut in the 2004/05 season, becoming the youngest-ever player in Ligue 1, and impressed enough to immediately nail down a place in the starting XI. His performances over the next couple of years attracted the attentions of scouts from up and down the country, and Monaco eventually won the battle for his signature. Injuries and inconsistent form somewhat blighted his two-year spell in the principality, though Menez’s talent remained clear and Roma didn't hesitate in parting with €10.5 million to sign him in 2008.
Three years in the Eternal City confirmed both his tempestuous nature and dazzling ability, convincing PSG to splash out €8m and bring him back to his homeland in 2011, the same summer in which Qatar Sports Investments became the club’s majority owner. Menez produced the best football of his career to date, excelling under the guidance of Carlo Ancelotti. Nevertheless, after back-to-back Ligue 1 titles the forward was on the move again last summer, joining Pippo Inzaghi’s Milan. There, the Frenchman has been a rare bright spot in a dismal campaign for the Rossoneri, at times dragging the San Siro strugglers through games and virtually winning points on his own. To many, this has been the season in which Menez has definitively come of age.
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Why you need to know him
Menez is hot property. Only Carlos Tevez, Luca Toni and Mauro Icardi – all out-and-out strikers – have notched more than his 16 goals in Serie A this season. Milan’s failure to secure European football for a second consecutive campaign means they are vulnerable to losing some of their better players, with Menez heading the list of likely departures from the San Siro this summer.
Former employers Monaco are one interested party but Liverpool are also on red alert, with the Reds in desperate need of a prolific scorer after a season in which strikers Mario Balotelli, Rickie Lambert, Daniel Sturridge and Fabio Borini have mustered just eight Premier League goals between them.
Menez, it seems, has been identified by Brendan Rodgers as the man capable of giving Liverpool more of an end product and cutting edge at the sharp end of the pitch.
Quick and tricky, Menez is brilliant in one-on-one situations and able to beat defenders in a variety of ways. As his goals tally suggests, the 28-year-old is a fantastic finisher, and his passing is generally very good.
Menez’s versatility is a major plus point, too: he has played wide right, wide left, as a false nine and in behind a conventional centre-forward this term.
While Menez is a fine dribbler, he is often guilty of holding onto the ball for too long and failing to release it at the right moment. The sight of him embarking on a mesmerising run before failing to pick out a better-placed team-mate has been an all too common one this season. If Menez had displayed more of a selfless streak, he'd have surely recorded more than just four assists in 2014/15.
His discipline – both on and off the field – is also a cause for concern. Menez was one of four France players to be reprimanded for bad behaviour at Euro 2012, while he's currently serving a a four-match ban for directing "insulting gestures” at the fourth official during Milan’s recent Serie A encounter with Genoa.
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Inzaghi has endured a difficult first season as Milan manager, but he can at least take solace in what seems to be a unique player-coach relationship with Menez. “Adriano Galliani [Milan’s CEO] had the idea of signing him,” the former centre-forward said in September after the Frenchman had netted three goals in his opening two games. “I knew of his technique and pace, but wanted to know what he thought and so I met him in Ibiza.
“He seduced me in five minutes, and at that point I said what I expected from him. I realised that I was faced with a lad who was very open, kind and professional. What he has since done on the pitch proves I was right. His approach is perfect. He could’ve run into trouble at the start, but wiped all that out and is really helping the team. I intend to marry him!” Now that would be a story...
Did you know?
Menez has turned down the chance to join Manchester United on two separate occasions, something that will only serve to endear him to Liverpool fans. As a teenager, the Sochaux academy product was approached by the Premier League giants, and although Menez was “excited” by the offer, his parents rebuffed the approach believing their son would be better served finishing his education in France. Six years later in 2010, Menez also opted against moving to Old Trafford, choosing to remain at Roma.
- Shooting 8
- Heading 6
- Passing 7
- Tackling 3
- Pace 8
- Dribbling 9
- Creativity 8
- Work-rate 6
What happens next?
Kevin Menez, Jeremy’s brother and agent, last week told the French press that there is currently “no reason [for his client] to leave [Milan]” – but his comments were hardly unequivocal. “We know that in modern football every player is for sale, but we haven’t been contacted by anyone, and Jeremy feels good at Milan, where he’s had the best season of his career. Liverpool and Monaco? These are just rumours, there are rumours around every player. A player who has scored 16 goals will be sought after, but at the moment there’s nothing concrete.” With no European football on offer in Italy’s second city and Menez not getting any younger, it wouldn't be at all surprising to see him depart Milan in the coming months. He won't be short of suitors after an excellent campaign with the Rossoneri, and Liverpool will have to act quickly if they're to take him to Anfield.