Thursday 17 November 2011
When Tottenham signed talented 17-year-old Moroccan midfielder Adel Taarabt from Lens in 2007, the north London Club thought they had unearthed a future superstar of the game.
Unfortunately for Spurs and for Taarabt, the move did not quite work out as they had hoped, with the playmaker perennially on the fringes of the first team. He never managed to start a match during his time at White Hart Lane, appearing as a substitute only 15 times over three seasons under three different Tottenham managers.
The man dubbed the 'new Zinedine Zidane' when he first arrived in England was allowed to leave on loan to QPR - then in the Championship - in 2009 and the move was made permanent at the start of last season, a campaign which saw Taarabt finally fulfil his undoubted potential as he led the Club back into the Barclays Premier League after an absence of 15 years.
For Taarabt, it was a perfect fit. Handed the captaincy at the start of QPR's title-winning season, he flourished in an attacking midfield role, dominating games with his outrageous ability on the ball and adding 19 goals to boot as he was named the Championship's player of the year.
"If Adel gets an opportunity and plays well he is an asset to anybody in this league"
QPR manager Neil Warnock
Now 22, Taarabt has worked hard to get another shot at playing in the top division and he goes back to Tottenham on Saturday keen to show his old employers that he is good enough to ply his trade at this level.
Taarabt has not yet scored in nine Barclays Premier League appearances so far this term, but Rangers manager Neil Warnock believes the Moroccan international needs time to adjust to playing regularly at the highest level of English football.
"He is only a young kid, you forget that really," said Warnock, who has impressively led QPR to 10th in the table after nine games. "I think he is trying very, very hard at the moment and the next few games will be very interesting because when you're playing the top clubs you need something special to win you games.
"He might not be able to crack it in the Barclays Premier League. Even Adel doesn't know that yet. But if he gets an opportunity and plays well he is an asset to anybody in this league. He hasn't scored yet, hasn't set the world alight, but he will get his opportunities."
Taarabt is not a man who is short of confidence. In March 2010, after a fine run in the QPR side, he revealed he wanted a summer move to Spain: "Next season I hope to be playing for one of the top four teams - either Barcelona, Real Madrid, Valencia or Sevilla. I have contact with good teams and I know they want me."
This summer, while preparing for QPR's Barclays Premier League return, Taarabt was the subject of speculation surrounding a potential move to French giants Paris St Germain.
But for now, the powerful schemer will be focusing on getting among the goals and helping QPR maintain their healthy position in the table.
If Taarabt can start to fire in the top flight as he did in the Championship, he might just find those comparisons with Zidane rearing their head once again.