BY ADITYA BAJAJ | Follow @adityabajaj
Having first impressed and then failed miserably both at QPR and later at Fulham, Adel Taarabt raised quite a few eyebrows when Milan of all clubs came calling for the enigmatic 24-year old Moroccan international back in January.
It wasn’t without reason, however.
Agreed, he was immensely talented and all his former managers from Harry Redknapp at QPR to Martin Jol at Fulham (the pair had also worked together at Tottenham Hotspurs) at some point had lauded his abilities. But the fact that all his managers got tired of his work ethics and enigmatic personality is equally true and frankly, it’s this image that has stuck with Taarabt. So desperate were Fulham to offload him that they simply cut short his loan period six months before time.
Where every club saw trouble, Milan saw an opportunity and aligning with the zero budget policy they have adopted recently to snap the mercurial attacking midfielder pushing many critics into believing that the Italian giants were simply running after quantity over quality. Such is the player’s reputation, the fact that he fitted right into Clarence Seedorf’s offensive 4-2-3-1 formation didn’t matter whatsoever. Never mind that he was also available for the Champions League with Milan already robbed of the cup-tied Keisuke Honda’s services in the competition.
| " I am satisfied with how he has been performing since his transfer. His versatility adds a lot to the team. He can play in all three positions behind the striker. "
- Clarence Seedorf
All doubts, however, seem to have subsided as the former Spurs midfielder gives one special performance after another ever since his sparkling debut against Napoli earlier this month. Milan lost at the Sao Paolo, but Taarabt opened his account for the Rossoneri with a brilliantly placed curler from outside the box – one that showcased both his class and eye for a good finish. Rafael Benitez and the Partenopei made headlines, but so did the player still owned by QPR.
The Diavolo have played Bologna, Atletico Madrid and Sampdoria since his debut and easily he has been amongst their top three players, if not the best. Everything from his trickery to his dazzling runs have had the Rossoneri faithful spell bound and clearly his popularity has soared over the past month as evident by the buzz all over media.
|Calming influence | Clarence Seedorf has clearly had a positive effect on Adel Taarabt|
Seedorf continues to lay his healing touch on the seven time European champions, and Taarabt has clearly repaid every bit of trust the former Milan legend put on a signing he can truly call his first as a manager along with Michael Essien. Both Honda and Adil Rami were signed during the Massimiliano Allegri era even though the pair was eligible to play only from January.
The renaissance under ‘Mr Champions League’ is there for everyone to see as his team have only looked better every time they have stepped onto the field with four victories and a draw in the six games he has been at the helm of the Milan bench. The one defeat that was, came against a much superior Napoli side and while Seedorf made a losing start to his Champions League career as a coach against Atletico Madrid, they were hailed as the better of the two teams.
At the heart of this rejuvenation has been Adel Taarabt who has scored two goals in three Serie A games since his loan transfer, and has effortlessly glided past and terrorized the opposition defences with Sampdoria being the latest victims of his artistry. With Stephen El Sharaawy still out of the squad until next month, Kaka looking a little bit off pace and Honda still regaining match fitness, the Moroccan international has taken to Serie A like a fish to water. His presence has naturally provided Seedorf with more options in the attacking third and that’s a bonus given the amount of work that still needs to be done at the back with the defense looking as vulnerable as ever.
Whether it is Seedorf’s calming influence or the fact that Taarabt is simply overwhelmed to be at a club as historical and majestic as Milan, there is absolutely no doubt as to who is having the last laugh as the transfer until now has proved to be beneficial to both parties. The Rossoneri have had a reputation of always keeping an eye on the ‘troubled but talented’ and the former Lens player joins a host of other such players like Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Antonio Cassano and more recently Mario Balotelli and Adil Rami – all of whom were branded ‘for sale’ by their former clubs for their behaviour off the pitch but found a new home in the red half of Italy’s fashion capital.
Though too early to speculate and predict, Taarabt like Balotelli has his future in his own hands and if he concentrates and performs on the pitch like he has been until now, there is no reason why the Rossoneri would not excise the option to make his loan permanent in the summer.
The hope still is and always will be, that the mercurial attacking midfielder does not switch on his other side and hit self-destructive mode.
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