QPR midfielder Adel Taarabt, who was on loan at Fulham this season, has completed a deal to join Italian giants AC Milan. This will end the career in English football of one of the most enigmatic and mysterious young players to have washed up on British shores in some time.
From brilliance one moment to indifference another, the player has never been consistent and has fallen out with multiple coaches and teammates throughout his time in England. The 24-year old midfielder, who has spent the bulk of his professional career in England, now has an opportunity to prove the cynics wrong at one of the most visible clubs in the world.
He signed originally with Spurs in the summer of 2007 when Martin Jol was managing the team, initially on loan but eventually on a permanent deal. Taarabt, who was 18 at the time, was being hailed as a Zidane-like player who would transform Tottenham.
But he was too young, too immature and too reckless on the pitch to be trusted. After Harry Redknapp took over Spurs, Taarabt was loaned to QPR. A few months later Taarabt made his infamous comments about Spurs:
“The big mistake was to sign for Tottenham and not go to another club (Arsenal) when I first came over”
Eventually Taarabt’s move to QPR was made permanent and after an indifferent 18 months, he showed his brilliance at the Championship level in the first two months of the 2010-11 season. Neil Warnock, who had taken over Rangers earlier in the year after his previous club Crystal Palace needed to let him go because of financial reasons, trusted Taarabt on the pitch impeccably.
The result was a magical season where Warnock’s team led by Taarabt ran away from the Championship pack and achieved promotion. It was appropriate that Taarabt scored the goal that put QPR back in the Premier League after 16 years at home against Cardiff City, at the time the second-placed team in April 2011.
After QPR’s promotion, Taarbat had trouble exhibiting brilliance one moment and openly sulking on the pitch the next. Warnock’s sacking in January 2012 hurt the player but he scored a brilliant goal to beat Arsenal under new manager Mark Hughes shortly thereafter.
In the 2012-13 season Taarabt had few highlights except an appearance as a striker or “false 9” against local rivals Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. Harry Redknapp had, by this time, taken over QPR and he deployed Taarabt in the attacking role that helped lead the club to a shocking 1-0 win. That win was not enough to stop the team from facing relegation.
This past summer Taarabt was loaned to Fulham but finding himself in yet another relegation fight, the player lacked the stomach or the interest to make much of a contribution.
We’ve seen Adel Taarabt for six and a half seasons in English football yet still do not know what to make of him in many ways. Hopefully Milan will have better luck.
On signing with AC Milan today, Taarabt said:
“I’m very happy to be here and it’s an honor to play for the strongest team in Italy. I already spoke to Seedorf and he told me what he expects of me. I can’t wait to start playing. My role? I like to play behind the forwards or even on the left or the right. Balotelli? I don’t know him personally but it’s a great honor for me to be able to play with him. I0’m a player that likes to attack, score and dribble. Briatore? He was the club president at QPR and we have a good relationship. I’m sure he’ll be happy that I’m Milan player. Jersey number? I’ve worn 7 and 10 in the past but I’ll take whatever number is free. A message to the fans? I’ll give 100% and I hope we’ll have some fun together”.