1,387 days after joining Portugal’s Benfica, Taarabt finally made his league debut on Sunday.
Rabat – Moroccan footballer Adel Taarabt, who signed with Benfica in June 2015, was only deemed up to the Portuguese club’s standards on Saturday.
The 29-year-old made his first appearance with Benfica in a game against fellow Portuguese club Tondela, four years after joining the club. Benfica won 1-0 against Tondela.
Before his transfer to Benfica in the summer of 2015, Taarabt played for Queens Park Rangers before the deal was terminated by mutual consent. Taarabt has played for European footballing heavy weights, including Tottenham Hotspur and AC Milan. The Moroccan footballer has also played a one season loaned player for England’s Fulham and Italy’s Genoa.
In his Benfica debut at the Estadio da Luz on Saturday night, the midfielder came on as a 71st-minute substitute for Pizzi, a Portuguese central midfielder.
Shortly after signing Taarabt, Benfica loaned him to the Italian club Genoa, where the Moroccan player stayed for 18 months and scored twice in 29 appearances. He was then benched for 7-months, before returning to training with Benfica February of this year.
In a post-match press conference after Taarabt’ debut, Benfica head coach head Bruno Lage said of the player, “He is 29 years old, he had a brilliant career but he lost a lot of time.”
Now that Benfica has chosen to give him the opportunity to prove himself, it is up to Taarabt to train harder to meet the club’s standards and avoid being benched again, Lage suggested. “It’s his responsibility to get back on track and he knows it. When we examined who could come with us [to the Tondela game] we thought we had to give him a chance.”