Adel Taarabt - the Moroccan wonder who could yet be a Fantasy Premier League (FPL) force
Cast your minds back to last summer and Adel Taarabt was the talk of Fantasy Premier League (FPL). The new Charlie Adam, or so they said.
Even our very own Mesh captained Taarabt in Gameweek 1 last season, at home to Bolton, only to be disappointed with 2 points.
This summer things are different. Hardly anyone seems to be talking about Taarabt, which is mainly down to how much he disappointed us last season.
When Taarabt is up for it, he can be a game-changer – the jewel in the crown who can produce a moment of magic to unlock the most miserly of defences.
But all too often last season his questionable temperament, work rate and selfish play overruled his talent, and he rarely delivered an end product.
The question is, could things be any different this season? Could Taarabt, now 23, become a fantasy force after all? I think so, and here’s why.
Taarabt has just signed a new long term contract at QPR, keeping him at the club until 2016 – a sign that he has settled down and enjoys playing under Mark Hughes.
The Moroccan recently said:
“I had a tough start to the season last year, but I worked hard and have really enjoyed it under (manager) Mark Hughes.”
“I have seen a real effort from Adel and the quality of his work last year was good, both in an attacking sense and defensively. He has embraced what we are trying to do.”
Taarabt’s performances under Hughes towards the end of last season were much improved. We finally saw fantasy returns with goals and assists, and Taarabt returned attacking points in 4 of his last 5 home games.
The potential to be a fantasy force is there if he starts the season like he ended last.
He’s had a season to adapt to the Premier League, and he’s now playing alongside better players, including new signings Park Ji-Sung and Fabio from Man United, while his raw stats from last season are more than encouraging.
Taarabt mustered just three assists last season, but he created over 60 chances, which puts him within the top 20 midfielders for chances created.
Poor finishing by teammates such as Jay Bothroyd really cost Taarabt early on in the season, but you would expect the likes of Djibril Cisse, Bobby Zamora and Andy Johnson to be more clinical.
Taarabt also managed just two Premier League goals, but he was getting on for 90 attempts on goal last season, which puts him within the top 10 midfielders for efforts on goal.
If the ultimate fantasy football player was a food recipe, involvement in taking set pieces would be a key ingredient. Taarabt takes free kicks, corners and possibly penalties – he took one and scored it in pre-season.
Taarabt has been priced at £6m, a reasonable price, but QPR’s opening 5 fixtures suggest a “wait and see” approach may be required, unless you fancy an early punt.
QPR start the season with a home encounter against Swansea, followed by a trip to Norwich, but then face trips to Man City and Spurs, with a home clash against Chelsea sandwiched in the middle.
The opening clash against Swansea at Loftus Road will tempt many fantasy managers, though, and he will certainly be a contender for our first Punt of the Week feature.
Maybe some will even hand Taarabt their armband? Sorry Mesh.