Djibril Cisse could be key to QPR’s bid for Premier League survival
Djibril Cisse's return to the Premier League has proven an instant success - and he could prove vital for QPR in the run-in
Mark Hughes’ shrewd signing of Djibril Cisse could prove the decisive factor in Queens Park Rangers’ quest for Premier League survival.
The 30-year-old French striker, signed from Lazio for a cut-price £4m, made an instant impact against Aston Villa on Tuesday, when he seized upon a loose ball in Shay Given’s area and rifled an instinctive shot past the Irish goalkeeper to score his 24th Premier League goal.
And while the former Auxurre striker has modest goal figures from his time at Liverpool and Sunderland, his experience could prove vital in QPR’s bid to avoid the drop.
It’s an acquisition which, coupled with Bobby Zamora’s arrival from Fulham, will give the Loftus Road outfit a chance to climb the table and move clear of the bottom three.
Following his arrival, Hughes was quick to highlight the European calibre and touch of class Cisse will bring to the Loftus Road outfit.
“He is going to be vital for us because that is something we maybe haven’t had in the club before in terms of his quality and his power and technical ability,” said Hughes.
“That is going to benefit us to the end of the season certainly.”
“All the experience Djibril has of the Premier League. When you bring players to a club, ideally you want them to have an understanding of the Premier League.
“Certainly in January, it is difficult if you are bringing in players who have no understanding of what the Premier League is like and no understanding of the intensity they are going to face.
“He understands that and that is why he was able to make the impact he did straight away.”
In 2004, Cisse completed his club record £14m transfer to Anfield but was Gerard Houllier’s last signing as Liverpool boss before the manager’s sacking and Rafael Benítez’s subsequent arrival on Merseyside.
Despite the managerial change and a horror leg break against Blackburn Rovers in the first half of the season, Cisse still netted a respectable 11 goals in 23 first-team appearances,
Expected to be sidelined for six to nine months, Cisse made a miraculous return in time for Liverpool’s Champions League final success over AC Milan, with the striker scoring in the penalty shoot-out.
It highlighted Cisse’s mental strength. His flamboyant exterior – bleached blonde hair to rival former Reds defender Abel Xavier and tattoos a plenty – can lead to misconceptions about his personality.
He is a winner and clearly relishes the big occasions. His crucial goal before half-time disrupted West Ham United’s momentum and helped spark Liverpool’s comeback in their FA Cup triumph in 2006.
A decline in first-team opportunities and another leg break prompted Cisse’s return to France with Marseille before sealing a move back to the Premier League with Sunderland in 2008.
The struggling Blacks Cats avoided relegation with Cisse contributing 10 goals, but despite his desire to remain on Wearside, Sunderland opted against a permanent deal and he headed for Greece.
Two seasons at Panathinaikos saw the striker rack up 43 goals and earn a switch to Serie A outfit Lazio but his time in Italy was unsuccessful, allowing Cisse to make his return to England with Hughes’ QPR.
In numbers: Djibril Cisse’s Premier League career
Liverpool: (July 2004-July 2008): 78 appearances, 24 goals
Sunderland: (August 2008 – June 2009): 38 appearances, 11 goals
Queens Park Rangers: (January 2012 – present): 1 appearance, 1 goal