How important is a medical? Featuring Liverpool, Newcastle & Hull

Gareth Thomas Football 6 Comments

Loic Remy was all set to join Liverpool last week but suddenly, despite flying to Boston to finalise the move and join the Red’s pre-season the deal was off. It was understood that the Frenchman failed a medical that ended his hopes of a transfer to Anfield which baffled his current manager Harry Redknapp. Redknapp claimed that Remy had no fitness issues but as The Independent remember he has in the past had worries over a heart defect.

The question remains though, how much does the medical matter and do clubs now know too much about their players that ‘stresses them out’?

Lets look at some examples where ignoring the medical did cause a problem: Alberto Aquilani and Slyvain Marveaux. Alberto Aquilani joined Liverpool from Roma in 2009 for €20m subject to a medical test. Whilst he passed the initial test there were concerns about his fitness and proneness to injury from the very start. He started the season in the physio’s room   meaning his first Premier League start came on Boxing Day 2009. He would be plagued with problems and played 18 Liverpool league games before being shipped out on loan to Juventus and then Milan and finally being sold to Fiorentina.

Slyvain Marveaux was on the verge of joining Liverpool under Kenny Dalglish but apparently failed his medical (something he denies) and later signed for Newcastle United. It immediately became clear that Marveaux did have fitness issues though and only played 10 times in all competitions in his first season due to a recurring groin injury and then hip surgery. In 2012/13 he managed 22 Premier League games but last year he could only play 9 times. He has now been sent on loan to French side Guingamp.

However, a medical failure at one club doesn’t always mean the player has no chance at success; let’s take Charlie Austin and Demba Ba as examples. Charlie Austin failed a medical at Hull City last summer because of a knee issue shown up on scans, heartbreaking for the then Burnley striker who was desperate to make it in the Premier League. Harry Redknapp’s QPR came to his rescue though paying about £4m for him. He stormed the Championship once again with 17 goals in 31 games as QPR won promotion via the playoffs and now this campaign will have his chance at the Premier League.

Demba Ba failed a medical at Stoke City in January 2011 so West Ham signed him on a pay-as-you-play deal instead. He scored 7 in 12 Premier League appearances before joining Newcastle in the summer 2011. The following one and a half seasons he scored another 29 league goals and played in 34/38 games in the 2011/12 season. So in 2 years he scored 36 times in 66 games and earned a move to Chelsea, all this despite failing a medical!

Of course medical testing in sport is incredibly important and has evolved quickly in recent years but with cases like Loic Remy you wonder if the risk is worth taking for a player with a proven Premier League goal scoring record. It will be interesting to see where he ends up and how he does this campaign to see if turning him down was worth it!