Adel Taarabt, the man with all the talent in the world, but a temperament that simply could not match.
It is an unfortunate circumstance that lingers in the footballing world, a player oozing with God-given talent, but desperately lacking the drive to achieve their full potential. Adel Taarabt certainly comes under this category. Once crowned Football League Player of the Year after effectively making the Championship his playground, Taarabt recently made his debut for Benfica, four years after signing for the club.
After a rather difficult start to his life in England, Adel Taarabt found himself permanently signing for Queens Park Rangers in 2010 in a £1m deal. This transpired after two loan spells at Loftus road, the first cut short after injury forced the Moroccan to undergo knee surgery.
It was during the second loan spell that Taarabt starting to show his scintillating brilliance that had earned him the title as the ‘new Zinedine Zidane’. A phenomenal curling effort from 25-yards earned the highest of praise from manager at the time Jim Magilton, who branded the midfielder as a ‘genius’. Alongside praise from both Harry Redknapp and Martin Jol, who branded him a ‘genius’ and a ‘wizard’ respectively (The Independent) – Taarabt has acquired quite the collection of compliments.
QPR fans will primarily remember Taarabt for one season and one season alone, however. The 2010-11 season, in which the midfielder ran rings around his less naturally gifted opponents. He finished the season with an impressive 19 league goals and assists, claiming individual awards and helping QPR to promotion in the process.
The midfield maestro had now reached a critical period in his career, a place in the first team of a Premier League football club. It didn’t quite go to plan, however. The introduction of Joey Barton into the squad saw Taarabt replaced as captain, with speculation of a move to PSG also reportedly turning his head.
Taarabt’s form took a hit, leading to boss at the time Neil Warnock pleading for his star player to replicate his Championship form. It did indeed pick up and the Moroccan was awarded with a fresh three-year contract. Taarabt continued to perform in patches upon the arrival of Harry Redknapp, but never quite emulated his prior form.
Taarabt’s time at QPR represents the only period in the midfielder’s career that where he played regular first team football. Incredibly, in a career spanning 12 years, Taarabt has amounted only 266 appearances. To put this into perspective, current fan favourite Luke Freeman has made 375 career appearances – over 100 more appearances despite arguably possessing less talent and being two years his junior.
The opinion-dividing enigma has certainly continued to add to his perhaps unwanted reputation upon departing London for Lisbon. After struggling to break into the first team, Taarabt embarked on an 18-month loan move. Upon his return, Taarabt found himself in the B team, but has now made his first team debut, a substitute cameo in which he touched the ball 16 times.
QPR fans will know more than anyone the talent that the controversial midfielder possesses. They will also be reluctantly aware of the talent that was squandered in his departure.
QPR fans what are your memories of the enigmatic midfielder? Was his talent truly wasted or in truth was he never really good enough? Join the discussion below.Like what the TT have on offer? Sign up for more notifications!