On Sunday 8th January, it was reported that Adel Taarabt had joined Serie A side Genoa CFC on an eighteen month loan deal. After undergoing medical examinations and finalising his contract, Taarabt was introduced to the media as a Genoa player last Thursday.
During his press conference, he recalled his arrival at Benfica eighteen months previously, when he turned up for pre-season training some eight kilograms overweight.
"When I arrived at Benfica, it's true I arrived a few kilos heavier then expected. I had just returned from holidays in Morocco and my Mother is a great cook!"
Now 27-years old, Taarabt is looking to reignite his career and prove to all of his critics that he can be a success if given an opportunity.
"I have been well received. It's a great opportunity to come to a historic club like Genoa."
Since his arrival at Benfica on June 12th 2015, Adel Taarabt has not played a single minute of competitive football for Benfica's first team. At the time of his signing, Taarabt was reportedly the club's third highest paid player. During his first six months in Portugal, the Moroccan did represent Benfica's B team, for whom he played seven games and scored one goal.
Since January 2016, Taarabt has not been included in Benfica's main squad or in their B squad. His lack of opportunities were often the result of his poor fitness and questionable off-field discipline. For example, it was alleged that Taarabt broke a curfew the night before Benfica's 3-0 win over Paços de Ferreira at the Estádio da Luz in September 2015.
Taarabt admitted that he is looking forward to a fresh start in Italy:
"I faced a difficult period at Benfica, but now I'm looking forward with the desire to show what I can do. The coach knows where I like to play: behind the strikers or on the left side. I'll put myself at his disposal as necessary. He will decide when I'm ready. I think that in a week or ten days things will have improved."
Just three days after his arrival at Benfica, the Eagles appointed Rui Vitória as their new coach, on a three-year contract. His predecessor Jorge Jesus and his scouting team had been responsible for bringing Taarabt to the Estádio da Luz, and on August 22nd 2016, Taarabt told the Portuguese media that he had never been given a fair opportunity by his new coach. Meanwhile, a distinctly unimpressed Vitória is claimed to have issued Benfica President Luís Filipe Vieira with a "It's him or me" ultimatum.
There was some excitement surrounding the Moroccan international upon his arrival in Lisbon. Taarabt was a product of the Lens youth academy in France, and later played in the Premier League for Tottenham Hotspur, Queen's Park Rangers and Fulham.
It was at QPR that he produced his best football, contributing 34 goals and 44 assists in 164 matches, across six seasons. In 2010/11, when QPR clinched promotion to the Premier League by winning the Championship, Taarabt was named the Football League Player Of The Year and was linked with Arsenal, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Valencia, and a number of other Spanish clubs.
Taarabt is already familiar with Serie A, as he briefly represented AC Milan at the beginning of 2014.
"I love Italy and I love the people. (I had a) positive experience at Milan."
While representing the Rossoneri, the attacking midfielder scored four goals in 14 Serie A matches and played in both legs of the Champions League round of 16 clash with Atlético Madrid.
There is no word yet as to whether Genoa have secured an option to buy Taarabt at the end of his eighteen month loan. Benfica are thought to be paying a portion of the loanee's wages while he is at Genoa. Taarabt's contract with Benfica expires at the end of June 2020.