The last two years didn’t go to plan for QPR in the Premier League with lacklustre performances and average players on high wages in abundance at Loftus Road resulted in their relegation back to the Championship. Adel Taarabt, the man who previously helped to get QPR to the top flight in exquisite style and was billed as a key man to keep the London club in the Premier League, is set to make a swift return with a move to Fulham.
After undergoing a medical yesterday Adel Taarabt is set to be confirmed as Fulham player on a season-long loan and have a reunion with Martin Jol, the manager of Tottenham when Taarabt joined.
The last two seasons that Taarabt has experienced in the Premier League have been difficult as expectation was put onto his shoulders to be QPR’s star man which led to inconsistent performances as the attacking midfielder struggled with the step up to the Premier League with his previous form from the Championship being difficult to replicate. Over time he has matured, which was important due to his sometime egotistical attitude producing problems for his managers, and this is noticeable in his performances, unfortunately the disappointing finishing from team mates has prevented Taarabt getting the assists his creative play warranted – creating 77 chances last season – 9th highest last season, 11 of which were clear cut, and only achieving 4 assists.
Taarabt has frequently been referred to as a luxury player, and on the evidence of the last two seasons it is clear where this assumption has come from. Playing in a team that was threatened by relegation often restricted Taarabt from playing to his full ability as the preference of not conceding was adopted which involved the work rate of getting up and down the pitch that doesn’t exist in his preferred role. This was the opposite to the system played during the Championship winning season, the Moroccan international’s best season to date with an incredible 19 goals and 23 assists which shows the potential that the player holds. It wasn’t a coincident that when given a free role in the game against Fulham (ironically) Taarabt managed to score two goals, the winner in particularly being of high quality, which resulted QPR’s first league win of the season.
The formation used (4-2-3-1) during that game is similar to what Martin Jol uses at Fulham, and would see Taarabt play in the number 10 role behind the striker – a position that has needed strengthen, despite having a different style of play, since the departure of Clint Dempsey last summer.
With the relaxed, yet brilliant, style of play of Berbatov already at the club grinding out a result away from home, which despite the different managers at Fulham in the recent years the team have struggled to do this, could be an issue. This would be down to Jol how to employ Taarabt during these games and whether a change to the system is needed to fix their troubles. However at home, where Fulham can be a very good team who pass the ball about well and have clever movement in the attacking third which suit Taarabt perfectly.
The worry of Taarabt’s poor attitude being the most memorable feature during his loan spell will be prominent in Fulham fans’ minds, but a move away from the atmosphere and expectations at QPR could be a major help.
While on his day Taarabt can dominate and win matches on his own, there are still areas of his game that need to be improved and develop. This includes knowing when it is best to pass the ball instead of shooting from distance (a 7% chance conversion rate is obvious evidence of this) which stems from selfish nature of Taarabt’s play and has cause frustration of the player’s manager, team mates, and fans alike. With their previous relationship, Martin Jol could be the person to help nurture Taarabt into the player he believes himself to be.