Queens Park Rangers face a decision that could go a long way to deciding their survival in their first Premier League campaign in 15 years, as they contend with a bid from Paris St Germain for playmaker Adel Taarabt.
PSG offered the West London club £13.5m on Friday for Taarabt, who played an integral part in Rangers promotion from the Championship last season scoring 19 goals and adding 16 assists in 44 matches.
The bewitching, yet sometimes frustrating talent that is Taarabt was harnessed from an inconsistent producer of tricks and flicks, into a genuine matchwinner by Rangers boss Neil Warnock last season, as the former Sheffield United and Crystal Palace manager made the former Tottenham Hotspur youngster – once labelled ‘the next Zinedine Zidane’ – the fulcrum of his side after moving permanently from White Hart Lane for what now looks a meagre £1m.
Warnock made the player captain, adding responsibility to his game, and Taarabt thrived, being named Player of the Year in England’s second tier, and becoming a true hero with supporters, likened to club legend Stan Bowles.
However, now comes the time where Warnock and the club’s board – who have already been surrounded by controversy this summer after hiking ticket prices, the resignation of vice-chairman and Warnock ally, Amit Bhatia, and constant speculation over the manager’s position at the club – must decide on the best course of action.
It is believed that Rangers are likely to reject the offer for Taarabt, which will be a relief to the clubs supporters who would be extremely concerned should they sell their star player, having made little movement in the transfer market themselves, except for a £1.25m bid for Blackpool striker DJ Campbell.
Nonetheless, PSG, flush with cash following a takeover from Qatar Sports Investment – QSI paid £45m for a 70% stake in France’s capital club, with the sole intent being on placing the Parisians back on top of French football – have made Taarabt one of their major targets this summer, along with Eden Hazard – the young Lille and Belgium international, who has been attracting a number of Europe’s major clubs, for whom they have already tabled a £25m bid – and are highly likely to raise their offer for the darling of Loftus Road, should Rangers indeed reject their offer.
So the question is, should Rangers fend off the advances of the French club?
Should the newly-promoted side try to hold onto Taarabt, a player who has made it known of his ambitions to play for one of Europe’s top clubs – No sooner had Rangers clinched promotion, the Moroccan was insinuating that his future may lie away from Loftus Road – knowing that the mercurial talent could become moody and disinterested if he feels it’s not in his best interests to stay with the R’s?
Key could prove to be Warnock’s role in deciding upon the players future. Taarabt has a well-known deep respect for Warnock, who has built his side around the 22-year-old, giving him a free role in his 4-2-3-1 formation, absolving him of defensive duties and allowing him creative license, something Taarabt may not be granted elsewhere.
On the other hand, Warnock may be willing to take the cash so as to improve his squad overall, knowing that perhaps Taarabt’s penchant for sulking may harm his side more than his unquestionable glorious technique may help them in the coming season.
The Rangers board have let Warnock know that he has only £10m to spend on new players, and the money that Taarabt’s departure could bring would allow him to redevelop his side, who, although solid in claiming the Championship title, lacked real verve and spark last season when Taarabt wasn’t on-form.
There are both positives and negatives for Rangers, Warnock and the player, whatever the outcome. However, with the start of the Premier League season approaching fast, Rangers need to make a decision – whatever decision – sooner, rather than later.