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Tuesday February 18 2014
Adel Taarabt, a fragile talent

Adel Taarabt could prove to be a real wildcard for Milan, if he can conquer himself, writes Tony Ciriello.

The mention of his name alone can stimulate drama and debate. Wherever he’s been, he has sparked the ire of fans, teammates and managers alike. Remind you of someone?

Well, though this may rather aptly fit the description of SuperMario Balotelli, it can also be applied to one of Serie A’s new-boys, Adel Taarabt. The cynics may say his January loan signing is symptomatic of the Rossoneri’s desperate, zero budget transfer policy, but there’s no doubt that the player has talent.

On his debut we saw everything that makes Taarabt a special player - his goal against Napoli encapsulated flamboyancy, flair and footballing instinct. He glided past the opposition defenders and burst into space before curling the ball into the bottom corner with effortless accuracy, past a helpless Pepe Reina. Though Milan went on to lose the game 3-1, Taarabt was a bright spark throughout and the Vesuviani struggled to contain him.

“Taarabt had a great debut,” commented Seedorf in his post-match interview. “He showed a lot of quality, worked hard and scored a great goal. He presented himself well, didn’t he?”

Evidently, Seedorf couldn’t resist giving the critics who lambasted the signing an ‘I told you so’. However, this is the ‘good’ of Taarabt which, in the past, has too often come in flashes and been overshadowed by the bad and the downright hopeless.

Seedorf is not the first Coach to laud Taarabt’s potential contribution. In 2011, QPR boss Harry Redknapp believed he was destined for great things: “He isn't in the same League as Zidane yet because he was a genius, but one day he could be up there. He [Taarabt] has got that much talent, it's just whether or not his head is right.”

Clearly he did not make much progress in fulfilling lofty expectations, as barely a year later Redknapp branded Taarabt as ‘useless’. It was quite a contrast but serves to illustrate his equally natural ability to frustrate. Former QPR teammate Sean Derry called him a maverick but was altogether unimpressed with his workrate: “He will be in the attacking third when we are defending for our lives. You can’t rely on him.”

Such has been Taarabt’s disinterest in defending, one broadcaster stated how his attempt at tracking back resembled that of an ‘elderly rambler admiring the scenery’.

Then, there are the cold, hard facts. During his six months this term with Fulham, he took 52 shots, none of which went in, provided one measly assist in 290 passes and only 15.4 per cent of his crosses were successful. These are hardly the statistics that belong to a player tipped for greatness.

He’s evidently got the skills and the inclination as we witnessed against Napoli, the question is why he has never been able to maintain it. It may very well be a question of focus or desire, but what seems to emerge time after time is an inherent fragility. When the going gets tough, Taarabt simply does not get going.

In light of such issues in his past, it makes it all the more astonishing that he will very shortly be making his Champions League debut in the Last 16 against Atletico Madrid.  The phrase ‘opportunity on a plate’ has perhaps never had so much resonance in the footballing world. 

Taarabt is at a crossroads in his footballing career. The impact he makes at Milan will define him, one way or another, as either the great playmaker he has so often been tipped to become, or as another footballer who ‘could have been’. The only thing standing in his way now, and has been throughout his career, is himself.

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Have your say...
....with everyone else.
on the 28th February, 2014 at 11:30am
Finally!!!!!!!

That's how Milan fans should speak to each other. You don't have to have the same opinion but you should respect each other for you're supporting the same team.

@ Viktor i'm not writing often here but i'm following the comments of others for a long time and there's just 1 thing i'd like to say to you. I respect you because you support Milan like i do but your comments are often far to aggressive and can so be annoying. You are the only 1 along with Boss who's arguing here....
on the 28th February, 2014 at 11:27am
@mm

Yeah loooong way. However, Im fairly satisfied with last 5 games. I have good feeling for our game against Juve. Hopefully Balo can start too. Im not satisfied with Honda so far, heavy on the foot and not much of a vision. Ever now and then him and de scgilio seem in sync but not close to what i expected. I ashamed we didn't go for vidic. He would be great along side rami.
on the 27th February, 2014 at 2:35pm
@viktor
Id say all home games should be ours to lose, we are milan not verona. But for the first time since I started blogging and debating with you I actually respect your last response to me. I agree and hold my hands up that seedorf has surprised me, but my concerns are shared by many and I hope we stop making pointless acquisitions and focus this season on using some home grown talent and not just falling into buying or acquiring for the sake of it. Long long way to go!
on the 25th February, 2014 at 11:17pm
@mm

valid points but when you hit the post twice and are not granted pent when it's obvious it consider that as unfortunate. In other words it was out game to win. Im aware of the troubles we having scoring and the amount of goals we concede what i don't agree on is the last couple of months of complains over our current rooster. It really isn't as bad as people say, since seedorf took over we;ve seen improvements. Nowhere near where I want us to be, but I'm willing to give them some time.
on the 25th February, 2014 at 3:08am
I saw the game and im completely aware of how we played, so are you the only fan who doesnt see that our defemce is beyond terrible?
I dont question your loyalty, I question your knowledge of football.
im not the only person calling you deluded am I?
If wed scored 1 of those goals wed have won- but we didnt. Why? Let me help you- the main objective in football to score, WE DONT DO THAT VERY OFTEN. 2nd is NOT to concede, another objective we fail to do... you getting it yet vik?
on the 24th February, 2014 at 10:45pm
@mm

FYI ATL madrid is a great time and can be compared to barca atm, no doubt.

Against atl madrid we should have won, I think everyone agrees on that. We didnt get the pent that was crystal we hit the post twice and atl scored in the 86th minute. That was our game to win. Dont come up with any bs saying that's not rue.

I think milan have great future (as we always have) but it takes time and im willing to give time as im a loyal supporter.

Now switch team and root for psg or something.
on the 24th February, 2014 at 7:47pm
Youl always be the joke viktor and you always will be bcoz your deluded.. tell me something- what future does this milan have in your eyes? This milan couldnt beat athl madrid, what would we do against barca or bayern? All seedorf has been able to do is cover the cracks- but evetually it will ceumble again, we have no fixed plan, we have a squad of mediocre midfielders, wheres the youth??
You know you actually astound me, I thought you were blind but I think stupid is a much better word!!!
on the 23rd February, 2014 at 8:48pm
@mm

You're so wrong on many points. Another win for seedorf today and another great performance by taarabt. Who's the joke now??
on the 23rd February, 2014 at 5:01pm
@maldini heir
No point trying to point these facts out to viktor he hasnt got a clue what hes talking about, he is actually deluded, in his eyes there are no problems with milan and we are just imagining this terrible season, where we will once again win nothing and decline further as we sign more pointless midfielders. We are all crazy but viktor is correct!! Hes a bigger joke than galliani and berlusconi put together!
on the 22nd February, 2014 at 2:27am
.... an experienced manager would certainly make their voice heard, bcoz this is a joke, we have a squad full of midfielders with a defence that is non-existent, yet we buy more midfielders, seedorf need to voice this issue, instead I see him in press conferences and articles telling us berlusconi is knowledgeable!! I mean this is crazy. We are actually the opposite to what we once were, we used to score 1 and close the game, now we score 1 (if we'r lucky) and concede 3!!! Invest in youth please
on the 22nd February, 2014 at 2:20am
@maldini heir
I totaly agree.
Your point about us losing out on vidic helps clear up my point, seedorf isnt strong enough for this role, Not bcoz hes unproven but bcoz he hasnt stood up n spoken out about these pointless 'buys', as manager he must see where we lack quality in defence and speak out. But instead hes sat welcoming the stupidity of berlusconi n galliani, if im wrong about this then it means hes asked for these players and doesnt see the real problems, Whch is even more worrying.....
on the 22nd February, 2014 at 2:08am
Can I just point that if we are going to sign over 30s former world class players then why did we just let Vidic go to Inter? You know a CB? We could really do with a CB. No definitely offer Essien a million quid a week so we can have 3 defensive midfielders and then let Vidic go to Inter. Big clap Galliani. Go on take your standing ovation. I look forward to Milan signing another 4 attackers this summer. It's going to be amazing.
on the 21st February, 2014 at 5:21pm
@ viktor the point is not whether Essien is better than nocerino the point is was he an appropriate signing? When we already had de Jong and Muntari then why did we need him. Nocerino whose form had deteriorated massively still offered more variety. The problem with changing 22 players in 6 months is it creates instability in the squad. That along with our shocking defence is the reason we're mid table. You can't just change the equivalent of a squad of players without causing chaos.
on the 21st February, 2014 at 9:23am
Ok viktor you win. We get it.. you dont know what your talking about!
on the 21st February, 2014 at 12:20am
@mm

Again, you know this bout seedorf how?? Since you claim to be having the benefit of foresight mind telling me who's going to win the wc too? I MUCH rather take essien the. Noccerino most people would.
on the 20th February, 2014 at 9:44pm
O and viktor I still ask why we have essien!
on the 20th February, 2014 at 8:01pm
@viktor
Your a joke. I see a huge difference between essien and nocerino- first is age, then time out for injuries, the versatility of the players. Essien can play 1 role and thats it, im not saying nocerino is world class im saying he could play in any midfield role and he isnt injury prone!
Im not judging seedorf as a manager- its the 'project' and the future that I judge. Seedorf is a lap dog, he will not stand up and speak out that this project is failing. We need to invest in future talent
on the 20th February, 2014 at 7:58pm
@Maldini's Heir

I think that's the 10th time you bring up Matri. CLEARLY that was an awful signing, that's rhetorical. I rather use essien during a 4 years spell then risk it on some random "could be good" player that your suggesting. Weird, if your a fan of milan you should care whether essien do well or no. Yesterday he did great with de jong. Cherish that.
on the 20th February, 2014 at 6:26pm
@ Viktor I don't care if Essien played well yesterday. We still did not need him. Nor did we need Honda. Essien will limit Poli and Cristante's opportunities in the team. Honda will limit Saponara's (his career at Milan is pretty much over before it started). These players (who are not at this stage world class) are crowding out other players in the team and typify the short termist view at Milan. We have no money but we sign players for 1 game? Matri cost 11m and was used for 4 months?
on the 20th February, 2014 at 5:10pm
@mm

Just saw another absurd post by you. What young +20 players are you referring to? You seem t know very little about football if you already starting to questioning seedorf after 2 months work where in pretty much every game except for bologna Milan have showed improvements. I think you sir, considering your using the word muppet should focus on your own mercenary pl league. Again, signing a player with CL experience us has essien doesn't have to be a bad signing. Look at pirlo.
on the 20th February, 2014 at 3:35pm
@mm

Do you now see the different between noccerino and essien?? It's like comparing a jeep to a g wagon. As bad as we handled ambro releasing him was a good thing, just as releasing noccerino was good.
on the 20th February, 2014 at 3:31pm
Tbc/ essien and de jong looked more or less flawless together in mid yesterday.Funny thing is just few days x of you said, why bring essien. Well now you now, watching football and rooting for your team is not the same as picking players in FIFA. Milan did very well yesterday and I think so far seedorf has reached beyond my expectations. Trust me, I any bale, ozil, thiago, suarez etc as well but I'm realistic and like the process I'm seeing of the new Milan.
on the 20th February, 2014 at 3:27pm
@Anonymous... finally someone who understands what I mean by puppets.
@maldini heir... great comments and your rite. On viktor no point even having discussion with him on any level he hasnt got a clue what hes on about. Based on his comments (utter stupidity) milan should be top of the league!!
We need to build for future. Use players from the youth squad and get them ready for next season now. Dont need money to use what we already have! No more freebies please... unless its messi!!!
on the 20th February, 2014 at 3:27pm
@maldinis heir

I never ever said I'm satisfied with the current transfer strategy by Milan. If you claim so your mistaken. However, I do not dislike the signing of essien and even Honda. Not sure where you get all this spite from as things haven't changed that much over the last couple of years. Just cause you sign a player on free transfer doesn't necessarily mean the player is rubbish. Do you think juve fans argued when signing pirlo for free? In stunned that not more fans are excited about
on the 20th February, 2014 at 3:22pm
I like what I've seen so far from Taraabt. If he can keep up his consistency, then he'd become a very astute signing. Last night was much better & Milan looked more solid with 3 central midfielders. Milan's fitness levels continue to be cause for concern. Good luck to our EL teams tonight!
on the 20th February, 2014 at 11:52am
@ Viktor you really need to stop coming on here trying to defend Milan's transfers. We all love an optimist but this stuff is delusional. Money is not an excuse. Galliani changed 22 players in 6 months and spent 11m on Matri. It's pure incompetence. Last night's performance (including by Bonera who was not that bad) just glosses over the cracks. Noone's looking for an immediate return to greatness.We can build slowly over the next 3 - 5 years.But at least can we have progress rather than madness
on the 20th February, 2014 at 10:24am
He works hard, is good going forward and can put in a decent cross. But defensively he is a liability. In fairness he's probably spent too much time looking at Bonera defending.....
on the 20th February, 2014 at 10:17am
nearly giving the ball away in the box. Now a word on Abate. He's made so many defensive mistakes over the years. He should've cleared that header. It does pain me to say but I cannot see a future for him at Milan if he continues like this. I would like to see them move him forward to the right wing. He could double with De Sciglio (who also has to improve his defensive game). For me that's his only long term hope. I really like him. He's Milan through and through (apart from his dad).
on the 20th February, 2014 at 10:16am
I am not sure if there's going to be a seperate blog on last night's performance but my general observations are: 1) great performance and unlucky not to score 2) what is the story with Milan playing properly in the CL? 3) Milan really need to figure out how to break down the smaller teams in Serie A who put 11 behind the ball (without Balo scoring from 40 yards). The other big teams manage it. 4) Bonera was not that bad (but we do know what he's capable of) 5) Tarabat was ok apart from...
on the 20th February, 2014 at 10:13am

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