How ex-Spurs flop transformed from flashy playmaker to dominant defensive midfielder

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How ex-Spurs flop Adel Taarabt transformed from flashy playmaker to dominant defensive midfielder
Photo: Instagram/adeltaarabt11officiel

Once known for his tricks and flicks, Adel Taarabt has rediscovered himself with Benfica in unlikely fashion.

Whilst playing in England, the Moroccan had picked up a questionable reputation for lacking the application to match his undoubted ability.

When he first broke through at Tottenham Hotspur, Taarabt was tipped to be a big player in the Premier League, scoring spectacular goals and exciting fans.

But concerns over his fitness levels led to him being shipped out on loan to Queens Park Rangers, whom the former Lens helped back to the Premier League with him winning Football League Player of the Year in the 2010/11 season.

However, his time in West London turned sour and led to loan spells with Fulham and Serie A outfit AC Milan.

Taarabt's career was quickly plummeting into the realms of mediocrity when he joined Benfica in the summer of 2015.

He hardly ever played, and has even been demoted to the Portuguese club's B team for large parts of his career.

But little did he know that he would be given another chance, at the ripe old age of 30.

In February 2019, after seven months in the reserves, Taarabt was sent back to the senior set-up following Bruno Lage's appointment as head coach.

Lage experimented with Taarabt, moving the famously mercurial attacker into a defensive midfield role.

It's fair to say the difference has stunned fans.

No one would have expected him to develop into a superb deep-lying midfielder dictating the play from deep and winning back possession.

Contributing massively to defensive and attacking phases for Benfica, the previously frustrating playmaker is now producing dominant performances from deep.

Whilst the best physical years of his career are likely behind him, Taarabt has adapted and finally put his masses of natural talent to good, effective use.

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