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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...
Milan will be a good side again once Berlusconi leaves. I'm a Juve fan so am happy that Milan are doing badly but for the sake of Italian football we need to improve the league and get back to having 4 teams in the Champions League. Taraabt has been nothing but trouble for every club he has played for and wil not be a good signing for Milan. Signs of desperation. Maybe Berlusconi should manage the team rather than employing a puppet.
on the 20th February, 2014 at 7:04am
@viktor
And il tell you again stop questioning my ages, iv seen to italy world cup wins.
You come here calling ppl kids and boys yet you claim to be this knowledgeable mature milan fan but you clearly understand nothing about football, you speak like a child, you are either blind or stupid if you can not see the mess milan are in due to this horrific transfer policy, a policy that sees no young talent actually get a real chance, a policy that brings in overated/unproven freebies. Wake up
on the 20th February, 2014 at 12:22am
Go away viktor. You talk so much rubbish its frightening to think how much crap 1 man can come up with!
Essien is pants.
Seedorf commented this week saying berlusconi is knowledgable! Seedorf is a puppet! No established manager would accept no money, selling half decent players and replacing with crap!
We may not have money but selling and replacing players in their 20s and replacing them with 31+/injury prone/crap isnt a step in the rite direction. Pick a new sport kid football isnt for you!
on the 20th February, 2014 at 12:03am
@mm

And what do you know about seedorf??? He's been in charge for 2 month that's all. You talk about him growing a pair without knowing anything about him. For starters he told balotelli ain't a champion yet. I don't see him as a person afraid of conflicts. Do your research before you post.
on the 19th February, 2014 at 7:29pm
@mm

Don't you dare exclude me from being a real fan lil boy. I started watching em when you weren't even thought of. the problem with the new fans is you complain too much, are you not up to date at all? We CANNOT afford the same signings are you so deeply except. I agree some signings are pointless but signing essien was not one of them. Get rid of Mexes, Muntari, constant and get a good center def and im fairly happy.
Talking about true fans..tsss
on the 19th February, 2014 at 7:27pm
@udo
I agree again! Your what these blogs needed, some with their eyes open! Viktors milans number 1 fan, the kind of fan galliani and berluconi have fooled with these pointless/needles/useless FREE "purchases".
I have sat week in and out and seen no improvement in this team all these "champions" they claim to have brought arnt doing anything more than the playerz we sold! The real fans have grown very tired of this BS they are attempting to feed us! Seedorf need to 'grow-a-pair' and speak out!
on the 19th February, 2014 at 5:31pm
@mm the list is endless
on the 19th February, 2014 at 2:39pm
So we're paying Mexes something like 125k per week to sit on the bench. Seedorf I think has seen the light with Bonera. The lack of options (never mind cover) at CB at Milan is so glaringly obvious that you would have to have some serious issues not to see it. I go from being angry to totally gobsmacked at the level of ineptitude.
on the 19th February, 2014 at 2:30pm
@ udo you're exactly right. If we needed someone like Essien (which we don't when we have De Jong and Muntari) why didn't we just keep Ambrosini? You know the player who played for Milan for nearly 20 years and who was our captain and we gave away for free to Fiorentina? Essien and Tarabat were both completely pointless signings. Seedorf cannot find a centre back to partner Rami. He played Zaccardo (possibly the best choice available) against Bologna. He rightly has no faith in Mexes.
on the 19th February, 2014 at 2:27pm
For me this is a waste of blog that would be better spent discussing a young Italian rather than a dime a dozen player. Yes he has talent but so do 1000s of others. I do not care if he cannot defend but his output is poor with silly shots and pointless runs. Anyways moving on Milan have to guard against set pieces vs Atletico. Milan should have much of the play as Atletico prefer counter attack with a hardworking albeit skill less midfield. Turan and Costa are their key men but Villa is there 2
on the 19th February, 2014 at 2:15pm
well, i think he is good enough for a midtable team like milan.
on the 19th February, 2014 at 2:03pm
I totally agree with maldini heir we need to build for the future.
I think we are a shambles with all these players players on loan and free transfers we shiw no loyalty to a player and get no loyalty from players. I still see absolutely no point in honda, essien and countless other pointless transfers. I fail to see the benefit in releasing nocerino to bring in essien. Taarbt I see no benefit for another spoilt brat in the team.
on the 19th February, 2014 at 1:58pm
@victor it seems to me that you, like galliani, follow players on youtube. Anyone who has seen Essien play over the past 3 yrs will tell you that he is way pass the stage of menopause. Why on earth did you think that his number one fan, mourinho, let him go for free (bearing in mind that he vehemently refused to give us kaka in a similar deal)? Where is the project that galliani promised us? A dead ambrosini will move better than this spent force. As i said earlier, i've gotten used to this crap.
on the 19th February, 2014 at 7:54am
Juventus are coming to Sydney in August to play a friendly - would be fantastic to see another great Italian team come down under - Adel and team would love Sydney just ask Sydney FC Italian superstar !
on the 18th February, 2014 at 11:05pm
Totally agree udo... only thing is you only named 4 others I can add another 8 players to that list..
on the 18th February, 2014 at 11:04pm
'Arry Redknapp" said he wanted Adel back at QPR but couldn't compete with the AC Milan move, When he helped QPR, and under manager Neil Warnick to go on and win promotion to the EPL, he was outstanding and had a free range on the pitch. With now playing with such a larger club and with a similar role he will shine and hope the fans start to love him as much as the Rangers faithful did - where the Fez in support of Adel ! He love it and watch him get better and better - great move for both !.
on the 18th February, 2014 at 10:59pm
i have some fond memories of him at QPR....when i played as them on fifa manager mode :p
on the 18th February, 2014 at 9:31pm
Taarabt has been tracking back and defending this year, but it is hard to remove the stigma. and his energy is more useful in the attack since that's his role. though, nobody talks about Neymar's, Messi' or Balotelli's defending. just poor ol' Adel.
on the 18th February, 2014 at 8:46pm
I will say one thing for him. He was playing in England and never playing on a particularly big team. He was young at Tottenham and even there they played one way. Putting him on the outside of a flat 4-4-2 is a waste, just as it is a waste with Ben Arfa at Newcastle. It's not just about giving him freedom. He has played well out of position his entire career.
on the 18th February, 2014 at 5:14pm
@eric star fury

Umm did you just say Cassano became the new better Baggio?

Just curious.
on the 18th February, 2014 at 4:42pm
@udo

Essien have played 1 1/2 game for us and you already cut him short. He's a lot better then the 4 other you mentioned.

I'm not going to mention anything about Taarabt as its simple too early and im very skeptical to this signing. However, he scored a great goal against Napoli and I've seen he's determination seemed pretty good considering people have said the opposite.
on the 18th February, 2014 at 4:41pm
I would give him the benefit of the doubt if he able to become a serious professional footballer whether it is with milan is another matter entirely. In any case he should be look upon as a bonus milan can't be dependant on being able to make taarabt a credible professional. It should be noted how well milan last attempt with a trouble maker went cassano went from being the new better baggio to a cartoon villain discarded by even his beloved inter.
on the 18th February, 2014 at 4:16pm
Exactly. But I think getting Taarabt on loan was a decent move either way. Taarabt, like Balotelli, will probably give Milan a good half a season. Milan shouldn't keep him because he loses steam once he's proven himself. But, for now, Taarabt is the most entertaining player on Milan.
on the 18th February, 2014 at 3:33pm
Another useless signing made by Galliani. Who knows, he just might give us 6pts like Birsa, and mistakingly become great. I've gotten used to seeing his type at milan - Constant, Birsa, Essien, Muntari, Mexes, etc
on the 18th February, 2014 at 3:25pm
PS I've spelt his name wrong but give it time he's only a couple of matches and might not be there past the summer.
on the 18th February, 2014 at 3:16pm
undermine young players and force the coaches hand with formations i.e. sign lots of attackers and we have to play 4 up front. At this early stage as a general observation other than his goal against Napoli, he seemed to be very busy against Bologna but failed to put in a single decent pass or cross (and it seems the statistics support this). Niang tracked back, put in crosses, had CL experience and is younger. Who cares if he never has the corect drivers licence!
on the 18th February, 2014 at 3:15pm
The only "told you so" bit is that Milan have conceded 35 goals this season and that is why we are mid-table and that is why Galliani (regardless of how Tarabat turns out) needs to go. I am not interested in high risk, random free signings in the last few days of the transfer window. I am interested in a long term strategy in place which signs players in key positions and which generally improve the squad. What we have (and Tarabat) pretty much sums it up, is a policy which seems determined to..
on the 18th February, 2014 at 3:12pm
It's still way too early to judge. We're certainly not at a "told you so" stage and quite frankly given the above career statistics and references if he does turn into a decent signing it will be a pure fluke. I hope he does turn out to be a fantastic footballer as I want Milan to do well but his signing i.e. the signing of a player in his position after we have loaned out Niang points to a totally chaotic, ill-thought out transfer policy. The same happened to Matri in the summer.
on the 18th February, 2014 at 3:09pm

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