Having been through eight clubs in as many years, Belgium's top scorer Jérémy Perbet finally feels at home with RAEC Mons, saying: "I am a player who needs to feel loved."
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Promoted last season, RAEC Mons have eased back into life in the Belgian top flight fairly comfortably, lying 11th in the First League and boasting its leading scorer in Jérémy Perbet.
The 27-year-old forward's 18-goal haul represents almost half of Mons's 40 strikes this season, with the big Frenchman having also played a major part in firing his side into the elite division while on loan from KSC Lokeren OV. It has taken a while yet finally it seems the Le-Puy-en-Velay born attacker is recovering the form that had him singled out for success in his early 20s.
Back in 2005/06, when on loan from Clermont Foot Auvergne, Perbet top-scored in France's third tier with 23 goals for AS Moulins. Subsequently picked up by RC Strasbourg, he was loaned to R. Charleroi SC, SCO Angers and then AFC Tubize. His eye-catching efforts for Tubize in the late 2000s earned a transfer to Lokeren, yet only with Mons – his eighth club, where he arrived last season – has he truly settled.
"I am a player who needs to feel loved," explained Perbet, who hit 14 goals in 14 games for Mons last term. "
The chairman did a lot to get me here and kept his promises. That is why I feel so good at Mons. Stability is what counts now." If fans at the Stade Charles Tondreau have dubbed Les Dragons' main marksman 'Perbut' (Per goal, in French), he is doing his best to keep a lid on any euphoria. "They sang that last season," he said. "I have had good and bad times. I know how quickly things can turn around. It would be totally wrong to suddenly be full of myself."
Former France striker Jean-Pierre Papin has tracked Perbet's progress ever since he signed him as Strasbourg coach. "His current success does not surprise me," said the 48-year-old. "His pace is nothing special but he has a knack of scoring goals. He is not all that tall but he holds his own in the air. It is great to see that by always working hard, he has found success. He has not come through the normal youth academy route but has developed well in Belgium – this could be a step towards something even bigger."
Perbet's scoring rate has certainly brought plenty of attention, and Mons coach Dennis van Wijk reckons he is worth it. "I think he can deal with a higher level but a lot will depend on the philosophy of the club," said the former AFC Ajax and Norwich City FC defender. "He would suit a side who play dominant football. Ajax might suit him – a technical team who have a lot of possession. Maybe PSV Eindhoven would suit him better, because of the family atmosphere at the club."
"Eight clubs in eight years is quite a lot," admits Perbet, yet a ninth might not be so much of a stretch.