Thursday, 24 March 2011

Can Adel Taarabt become a world beater?

Can Adel Taarabt become a world beater?
Moving abroad to pursue your footballing dreams as a youngster can prove to be a difficult life choice. The language barrier, homesickness and having to adapt to a new culture is all part of the settlement process. However, after four years in English football it seems one of the country’s most coveted youngsters is ready to take his game to the next level.

Queens Park Rangers’ Adel Taarabt was voted the Npower Championship Player of the Year on Sunday evening – an award that merits the performance of a player who looks ready to showcase his talents at a higher level.

Taarabt has been instrumental this season for Neil Warnock’s side, who sit nine points clear at the top of the table with only eight games remaining.

Only a disaster will prevent QPR winning the Championship title, making it an inevitability that the former Tottenham Hotspur forward will once again be a Premier League player come next season.

His Background

The Moroccan born playmaker spent most of his childhood growing up in France, where he signed for Lens as a youth player. Taarabt also represented France at various youth levels before opting to play for his native Morocco at senior level. In October the Daily Mail reported Taarabt had quit international football after claiming he was ‘disrespected’ by the Moroccan FA, an issue which still remains unclear.

After making only one Lens appearance, then 17-year-old Taarabt joined Spurs on an initial loan in January 2007. At the time Tottenham’s sporting director Damien Comolli described their new recruit as; ‘one of the best talents in Europe for his age.’ He was right to be proud; the Lilywhites had just beaten off competition from Chelsea and Arsenal for his signature.

Despite the warm words from Comolli, Taarabt rarely featured during his time at White Hart Lane; although it wasn’t his lack of talent which hindered him. From early on it was obvious he possessed that rare natural composure on the ball. He wasn’t scared to hold on to possession and it was clear he had a certain confidence about him. That though wasn’t to the liking of then boss Juande Ramos, who decided against giving Taarabt a squad number for the 2008-09 season – a move which indicated that not all was right between club and player.

Natural Ability

Now, after two years at Loftus Road, Taarabt is starting to reaffirm the belief that was shown in him as a teenager through his performances on the pitch.

The 21-year-old has taken the second tier of English football by storm this season, scoring 15 league goals in the process.

Boss Warnock showed his faith in his star player by making him team captain, a decision which would have taken more than a few by surprise in the Loftus Road dressing room, given Taarabt’s questionable attitude in the past.

Warnock must take a lot of credit, as he has revived the career of a young talent who had lost his way. Tactically the QPR boss has got it spot on with Taarabt, as the Moroccan enjoys an almost free role with no defensive responsibilities. This is a perfect example of playing to someone’s strengths, with the team reaping the rewards from it.

On his game he looks the complete player – short and long range passing, quick feet, he can run past defenders and has the ability to find the net from anywhere in the final third.

However there is no doubt room for improvement. The manner in which he plays the game shows he is the kind of player who loves being on the ball, but on occasions can be guilty of over elaborating. At times Taarabt is wasteful in possession, opting for his own individual skills rather than an easy lay-off to an unmarked team-mate. Of course, maturity on the pitch will come with experience, but this is something Warnock knows his star man must eradicate if he is to become a success at a higher level.  

The Future

With Rangers’ comfortable lead at the summit of the Championship it looks certain that Taarabt will be given a second opportunity to prove his worth in the Premier League.

From his teen years Taarabt has been dubbed a major prospect in European football, so it would have come as a surprise to many to see him playing in England’s second tier. However, after an unsettling time in Spurs’ reserves it appears two years in the Championship has enabled Taarabt to grow up, as a player and an individual.

At the age of 21 now is the time for QPR’s skipper to take his game to the next level. It’s almost certain he’ll have the chance of top flight football at Loftus Road, but if Rangers’ don’t win promotion there will be a number of clubs who will be tempted to take a gamble on this Moroccan maverick, with Manchester United being linked in recent months.

The step up from the Championship to the Premier League has proven to be too much for some players in the past. Taarabt though need look no further than the performances of Blackpool’s Charlie Adam this season to see that, if you have the ability, there is no reason why you can’t bridge the gap from the Football League to the top flight.

It’s too early to tell what the long-term future will hold for Taarabt, however after a difficult initial period in England, his success in the Championship has many believing he is now ready to establish himself with English football’s elite.

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