Fulham manager Rene Meulensteen has confirmed AC Milan is set to begin discussions with Queens Park Rangers loanee Adel Taarabt over a potential move, per Sky Sports, so here is a scouting report on the 24-year-old Moroccan international.
What Do Milan See In Taarabt?
When Taarabt has played for Fulham, he has only started 58.3 percent of Premier League games on a team that has scored 22 goals in 23 league games.
This is a red flag for Milan management, as they need to know he is behind Pajtim Kasami and Seattle Sounders loanee Clint Dempsey.
Prior to this season, Kasami, who had a stint at Palermo, played nine league games for Fulham.
Dempsey is going through a rough patch as he has scored one goal on 53 shots in combined Major League Soccer and Premier League play.
Taarabt has played behind the No. 9, but he also started in the false nine position during the 4-2 defeat to Manchester City.
He registered his only league assist so far in that game when he created Kieran Richardson's goal.
Last season at QPR, Taarabt started 11 league games on the left wing in what you can label as the "Cristiano Ronaldo" role, which is a free-roaming position devoid of positional discipline and defensive responsibilities.
Taarabt has seen playing time on the left wing for Fulham this season, though the first-choice left-winger is Alexander Kacaniklic, a technically astute player, who struggles to get himself involved in games—he averages 15 passes per game and has only scored once in the current Premier League campaign.
The pessimistic view Milan fans could hold is Taarabt has not established himself as an undisputed starter despite Fulham not having any world-beaters in his positions—what use is he to Milan?
A more optimistic outlook is he will be handy to Milan manager Clarence Seedorf by being an option centrally and on the left flank as an inverted winger, therefore reinforcing squad depth.
Seedorf used a 4-2-3-1 in a 2-1 win over Cagliari, so Taarabt could be an alternative in the left attacking midfield slot.
Taarabt is only 24 - could Seedorf be the one who makes him reach his full potential on a consistent basis?— Matteo Bonetti (@TheCalcioGuy) January 29, 2014
Can Taarabt Dominate Europe's Elite Leagues?
Taarabt has always been earmarked for greatness.
"He isn't in the same league as [Zinedine] Zidane yet because he was a genius, but one day he [Taarabt] could be up there because he's got that ability," Harry Redknapp said in 2011, per Declan Taylor at the Telegraph. "He [Taarabt] has got that much talent, it's just whether or not his head is right."
Redknapp on whether Taarabt had a point to prove: "I don't think so. When he played against us at White Hart Lane he was useless."— Phil McNulty (@philmcnulty) April 21, 2012
Redknapp unimpressed at Taarabt's failed step-over session gifting ball to #safc and then tracking back like a rambler enjoying the scenery— Henry Winter (@henrywinter) November 27, 2012
Taarabt showed his genius during the 2010-11 Championship season when he scored 19 times and registered 11 assists en route to helping QPR seal promotion.
He was named the Football League player of the year, but since stepping back into the Premier League, having failed to crack it on his first attempt as a Tottenham Hotspur player, Taarabt has flopped.
He has played 70 Premier League games, netted seven goals on 215 shots and registered eight assists.
So what is holding Taarabt back?
"He will be in the attacking third when we are defending for our lives," then QPR captain Sean Derry said, per BBC Sport. "You have to bite your tongue at certain times but he is the maverick in our team."
This is not the first time a teammate has lambasted Taarabt's work ethic.
"If I was Adel and had Adel's ability, I would not want to be coming up short having not worked hard enough," Joey Barton said, per Absolute Radio's Rock 'n' Roll Football (h/t the Telegraph). "I don't know whether that is because he doesn't work hard enough or that he tends to sulk."
Can't wait for Taarabt to join. I was thinking only a few hours ago that the squad needed another lazy attacker who won't defend— David Swan (@DavidLSwan) January 28, 2014
Redknapp, Taarabt's manager at QPR, was happy to get rid of a dressing room cancer, per the Daily Mail:
With perfect timing, Adel Taarabt promptly got up to his old tricks. He turned up late for our training camp in Devon so we sent him home.
There were the usual excuses but we're not standing for it any more. There has to be a different attitude if Rangers are to return to the Premier League.
I know some of these players think they are better than this division but I've been down there and I know there are teams and players that will eat you alive if you are not fully committed.
My priority was to get rid of the troublemakers. Get rid of them before they got rid of us.
Taarabt did not succeed with Spurs, QPR and Fulham in the Premier League, so why sign with Milan?
One career suggestion would be to sign with an Eredivisie club as the attacking style of Dutch football would suit Taarabt.
Instead, Taarabt deludedly believes Milan is a stepping stone.
"[AC] Milan aren't going through a glorious period now, and they're no longer a part of the top clubs," Taarabt said in 2012, per La Gazzetta dello Sport (h/t ESPN FC). "However, if I joined Milan then it would open up the doors for me to great clubs like Real Madrid and Barca."
If Taarabt fails epically at Milan, it could be the humbling he needs.
Taarabt to Milan is so random.— Janusz Michallik (@JanuszESPN) January 29, 2014