Fulham manager Martin Jol has challenged Adel Taarabt to prove he belongs in the Premier League.
The temperamental Moroccan, 24, was signed on a season-long loan from QPR last week and made his Whites debut as a second-half substitute in Saturday’s friendly against Parma.
Having been a star of Rangers’ promotion season, he struggled to hold down a regular first-team place during their two years in the top flight. Jol was happy to offer Taraabt a chance to play Premier League football but has called on the talented playmaker to make the most of the opportunity.
“He should not be in the situation he is now. There are a lot of [good] players in this country and Europe who are in that situation and not playing. I always say that for us it is an opportunity to take them when they are ‘bad’. It doesn’t necessarily mean that they are bad players – we have to try to get the maximum out of them. For us it’s not possible to get all these players who are ‘good’. Dimitar Berbatov was probably an exception and so was Brede Hangeland.
“With the rest, you have to try to be creative and I think with Adel Taarabt we were very creative. A year ago he was probably going to Paris St-Germain for a lot of money. They threw him out of the QPR squad and I was happy to take him. But I think he has to prove now again that he can do a very good job. He’s 24 now and hopefully he will prove to us and to anybody else that he can do a good job. We need creativity and that’s why I took him. Adel is someone who can score goals and have five or six assists, I hope, at the start of the season.”
The Fulham manager is realistic about when Taraabt can make his first contribution given that he has largely missed out on pre-season with QPR.
“He hasn’t been included in a QPR team and we have to get him fit, so of course you can’t start with him. To be 100% it would maybe take three or four weeks, but I think we need him before that. I will try to get him into match fitness as soon as possible. We’ve got other players – Derek Boateng played 60 minutes [against Parma] and didn’t play for a year and Ashkan Dejagah has come back from injury. Anyone we bring in in the next few weeks will be the same [in terms of fitness]. For us it’s good we’re starting the season, but maybe we could have done with a couple more weeks.”