Sunday, April 5, 2009

Adel Taarabt Declares for Morocco Over France, Spurs Win Either Way

Adel Taarabt says a need to play first-team football has helped him decide to play for Morocco over France and join QPR on loan from Tottenham Hotspur.

The 19-year-old midfielder has pledged his international future to Morocco over France, whom he played for at U-17, U-18, and U-19 level. And has since played three games for the Atlas Lions...

He was even named man of the match in his debut game for Morocco where they beat Angola 2-0.

Taarabt scored the first, a spectacular 45-yard half volley straight from the goalkeeper's clearance, and then set up the second for Bourdeaux's Marouane Chamakh to make his debut a match to remember.

Since Taarabt's declaration for Morocco, the club's interest in Chamakh has also risen as Spurs' European scouts have been monitoring their player's progress they have also been on the lookout for potential signings.

With Roman Pavlyuchenko's future at the club looking undecided as of yet, it looks likely that another striker will join in the summer. And Chamakh is on top of the list at the moment.

He gave clear reasons for his decisions, and has shown Harry Redknapp a maturity that many thought the young Moroccan could not develop.

Since taking over at Spurs, Redknapp has brought Taarabt back into the fold after he was told he was not needed at the club by Tottenham's previous manager, Juande Ramos.

"My reasons for saying yes to both Morocco and QPR were I needed to play competitive football again," he said.

"I think I feel more Moroccan than French in my heart also and I play the Moroccan way, with lots of skills, dribbling and action.

"Didier Drogba and Samuel Eto'o could have played for France but they have had amazing careers with their African sides."

Taarabt made his official debut for the Atlas Lions in a friendly with the Czech Republic last month.

"The invitation to play against the Czech Republic came at a time when I had been playing very few games for my club for a long time and the thought of playing 90 minutes in a full stadium again excited me," he said.

"I had always thought I would play for France one day but after hearing from Roger Lemerre the more I thought about it the more I thought I wanted to play for Morocco."

Taraabt, who moved from the Moroccan city of Fez to France when he was just nine months old, represented his adopted country at U-17, U-18 and U-19 level and had been tipped for senior caps too after he was named as one of the country's future stars.

With a growing reputation in France, Spurs moved quickly to snap up the highly rated youngster.

Powerfully built with phenomenal technique, it was hoped at White Hart Lane that the young prodigy would progress rapidly. But his game lacks tactical discipline and both Ramos and Martin Jol found it hard to find a place for the player in their team.

On taking over at Spurs in October, Harry Redknapp went to meet all the club's players where he came across a bewildering sight. Taarabt was playing with the youth team and even though he is only 19, he stood out as a fabulous talent.

Redknapp immediately re-instated him as a first team squad member, but he too has found it difficult to accommodate the youngster. Matters were even more complicated because of Spurs' flirtation with the relegation zone.

In March the duo concocted a plan to send Taarabt out on loan, and QPR became the ideal choice. A Championship team with ambition, based in London where Redknapp could keep his eye on the young player.

And Adel has not looked back. In only three games for Paulo Sousa, he has become one of Rangers most important attackers, and he has impressed to such a degree that interest in the player has started to rise throughout the Championship and from the Continent.

Since leaving French club RC Lens two years ago as a 17-year-old, Taraabt has played just 17 games for Tottenham in the English Premier League so the loan move makes all kinds of sense.

Everyone associated with Tottenham Hotspur knows of Taarabt's qualities...and his deficiencies. If this loan move can iron out some of the wrinkles in his game, then Spurs will have a phenomenal prospect on their books for next season. If not, then QPR can only benefit from his mercurial talents in the Championship.

twitter / WillieGannon