Adel Taarabt has now been with Tottenham for over three years. In that time the Moroccan midfielder has made 15 substitute appearances for Spurs and is yet to take his place in a starting 11. Of course, the 20-year-old has been out on loan at Queens Park Rangers for the past year but, with so many players ahead of him at Spurs, and more arrivals likely in the summer, will it be time for Taarabt to make a permanent move away from White Hart Lane at the season’s end?
Taarabt has had a good season at Loftus Road, making 33 league outings for the Championship side and scoring seven goals in the process. It is clear that he has ability above the majority of players at that level and when he is on form is a real handful for the opposition with his pace and trickery. But there have been moments in the campaign where he has been let down by his attitude and work rate and rumours suggest he fell out with Jim Magilton prior to the ex-manager’s dismissal. This was despite starting the season in excellent form as the R’s looked to be candidates for promotion. With Neil Warnock now installed as manager of the West Londoners Taarabt, who had played seven times for his country and netted three times, seems to have already found a good working relationship with his experienced gaffer. Taraabt scored in the away draw at Sheffield United and afterwards Warnock said:
“Adel needs a manager like myself who’ll forgive him the odd mistake and give him a lot of loving, which I do. I’m going to try and give him his freedom and let him enjoy himself. I’ve told the lad himself, I don’t mind him doing what he wants in the other half of the pitch, but when it gets to that halfway line he has to become disciplined, and he has. Not everybody is going to want to buy him because you really have to play a system that’s going to suit him, but I love him. He’s smiling all the time and he’s got that little buzz. It’s a bit strange him wearing gloves on the pitch, but maybe that’s my old age.”
The Moroccan joined Spurs in January 2007 after being labelled the new Zinedine Zidane. Such comparisons instantly put pressure on young players but he did show glimpses of his potential under Martin Jol. But when Juande Ramos joined the North London club Taarabt struggled for any playing time. The same has been the case under Harry Redknapp and if he is going to get a chance he needs to carry on his current form in the Championship. There is no doubting his talent but the midfielder definitely needs to become a bit cleverer with his use of the ball – knowing when to hold onto it and when to release. And, as Warnock said, knowing when to use his fine array of tricks is another skill Taarabt needs to pick up because fans at Tottenham got slightly frustrated with his habit of losing the ball in his own half.
Taarabt seems to be enjoying his football at Loftus Road now as much as he has all season. It will be interesting to see if he can show a consistent run of excellent form under Warnock in a system that suits him. Reports suggest that he has even been tracking back under his new manager and that is something he has rarely done this season. Sometimes players of such quality struggle to fit into a structured system and this can stifle their development, but it seems as though he is trying his hardest to make sure this doesn’t become his fate. Unquestionably, the next few months are vital if Taarabt is to make anything out of his Tottenham career.