GUEST POST BY JON DODD
1970 PSG takes a look at the club’s Euro 2012 contingent ahead of next week’s kick-off in Poland/Ukraine with France’s Jeremy Menez taking centre stage this time around.
Jon Dodd is an avid supporter of Paris Saint-Germain and is a friend of the website. He has written for 1970 PSG before and will be keeping a keen eye on Les Bleus’ progress in Poland/Ukraine this summer.
The year 1987 proved to be an eventful one with the birth of the Peugeot 405, construction of the Channel tunnel initiated, an agreement for Euro Disneyland achieved and PSG’s Jezza aka Jeremy Menez being born in Longjumeau (a commune in the southern suburbs of Paris).
Growing up not too far from his birthplace in Vitry-sur-Seine, CA Vitry was his first club. A year later he moved to the Centre de Formation de Paris, where his coaches bestowed him with the playmaker role due to his technical abilities shown on the field. Five years later he was training with fellow internationals Patrice Evra and Jimmy Briand whilst at CSF Bretigny. It was only one year later he signed for his first professional contract with Sochaux.
Entering Sochaux’s SD elite High School, Vignes de Seloncourt, Menez had ambitions to become an accountant and achieved the grades to match. At the age of sixteen he made Ligue1 history by becoming their youngest ever professional after agreeing a three year deal. Promotion to the first team drew some very strong interest from Europe’s big guns – Manchester United especially drew accusations of tapping up the young starlet via his parents.
Menez opted to remain with Sochaux and during the 2004/05 season after scoring his first professional goals, he again made history with a hat-trick in a 4-0 win against Bordeaux, the youngest player to score one was now added to his achievements. Despite his youth he was a regular starter in Sochaux’s unsuccessful UEFA Cup campaign, he also lost out to Jeremy Toulalan (Nantes) after receiving a UNFP Young Player of the Year nomination.
After a disappointing 15th place finish in the 2005/06 season, Sochaux’s chairman announced he would consider offers for the now unsettled playmaker, attracting interest from England and fellow Ligue1 clubs.
Sochaux agreed a fee with AS Monaco FC in the region of £3M and he was installed as a left-winger. Following management changes and playing time inconsistency Menez grew frustrated, a groin injury subsequently cost him two months, his April return brought goals in three straight matched including a winner against champions Olympique Lyonnais.
The 2007/08 campaign brought yet more interest from home and abroad, yet again he decided to remain. The season brought more goals but was cut short by a serious injury against PSG, ruling him out this time for three months, returning just in time for the final two matches of the season.
After three matches in the 2008/09 campaign a transfer fee of £10.5M took him to Italian club AS Roma replacing PSG bound Ludovic Giuly. The season brought with it the heights of a Champions League debut (against Bordeaux) but also the lows of inconsistent playing time afforded him by the then manager Luciano Spalletti.
The 2009/10 season brought with it a change of management at Roma, Claudio Ranieri replacing the departing Spalletti. Criticism was aimed at him from the coach and his teammates following a poor performance as a substitute against Cagliari, an apology from him and a declaration of commitment to the team dispersed rumors of a transfer request. Roma finished runners-up and secured Champions League qualification.
Despite starting more games in the 2010/11 season, conflicts between himself and the coach resulted in constant substitutions. Five days after Roma’s first-leg knockout match agaisnt Shakhtar Donetsk, Ranieri resigned, replaced by Vincenzo Montella. Having been playing more consistently in the prevailing matches, Menez again found his appearances to be coming from the bench.
In March 2011, in an interview published by L’Equipe, he told of his playing time frustration under Montella’s management and these frustrations reached a climatic end in April resulting in a training ground altercation with the Italian. Following that nights Coppa Italia matchup with Internazionale, Menez’s car was vandalised and the windshield smashed.
An £8M transfer to Paris Saint-Germain meant he had returned home to where it all began, and where a “Magical” challenge awaited. With the influx of QSI Euros, a team of Parisian Galacticos was being assembled to challenge on all fronts. The 2011/12 season brought a decent enough start but with the money spent expectations were high. Coach Antoine Kombouare paid the price at Christmas replaced by Carlo Ancelotti and the team subsequently finished a season defining 2nd.
Qualification for the Champions league for the 2012/13 season will again put Jeremy Menez among Europe’s elite.
So after a nail-biting end to the campaign, he heads to the European Championships as a member of Laurent Blanc’s revitalised Les Bleus, who I see as genuine challengers for the trophy.
Given opportunity, Menez will display presence on the ball as well as awareness and pace. His vision to unlock any defense is also renowned as a dangerous weapon in his armory, making him a valuable piece of the puzzle. He sees the full picture, clear and precise, a testament to his football education and character on the field.
Starting from the bench (something he’s overcome before), make no mistake given an opportunity he will put in an assured performance given the chance to shine!
The future is bright for Jeremy Menez.
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