Fulham head coach Rene Meulensteen believes he can help Adel Taarabt finally fulfill his potential.
Meulensteen feels Taarabt has the ability to become one of the leading lights in the Premier League having observed him at close quarters since joining the Cottagers as assistant to Martin Jol in November. While the Moroccan midfielder’s talent has never been in question, both his attitude and his work-rate have frustrated managers to distraction and Harry Redknapp’s decision to allow the mercurial playmaker to leave relegated QPR on loan this summer was hardly a surprise.
The 24 year-old’s loan spell at Craven Cottage has been frustrating as he struggled for form and fitness. Looking overweight for much of his early spell with Fulham, Taarabt has made just four league starts and scored a single goal – against Burton Albion in the League Cup – but delivered his most impressive performance as a lone striker in Fulham’s 4-2 defeat by Manchester City on Saturday. Meulensteen was impressed by Taarabt’s direct running and, given his reputation for enhancing the skills of the likes of Robin van Persie and others during his time on the Manchester United coaching staff, he could yet revive the midfielder’s flagging career.
The one thing we know is that Adel can change games and I thought from the environment I have come from I can help him to become a more complete player. He has been sucked in over the years by getting the ball and wanting to show what he can do, and these are things I’ve been talking to him about.
He needs to find that unpredictability of using that skill at the right time to do something individually. I put him in a game situation the other day where he could only have two touches, and he never put a foot wrong. I stopped him running with the ball and wanted him to get his head up and pick a pass.
If he puts that together he has the qualities to be a top player. How many players are there with the same technical quality? He’s also strong and has got a change of pace. We have to make sure that he utilises his talents for the best purposes of the team. If I can make him tick week in, week out he will be a great player for us.