Queens Park Rangers: Taarabt remains but Warnock faces frustration in striker search

Queens Park Rangers’ statement over the future of Adel Taarabt provided a welcome boost to manager Neil Warnock after what, by his own admission, has been a frustrating summer spent preparing the Premier League returnees for life in the top flight.

Bernie Ecclestone and Flavio Briatore, the QPR majority shareholders, were quoted in a club statement as saying: “We are pleased to confirm that Adel Taarabt will be staying at QPR this summer. Despite receiving a substantial bid for our Moroccan international, we rebuffed all approaches and indeed, we are keen to build for the future in the Barclays Premier League, and not sell one of our prized assets.” Despite the echoes of similar comments from Tottenham Hotspur Chairman Daniel Levy regarding Luka Modric, issued days before the playmaker reiterated his desire to leave, the announcement should prove a fillip to Warnock after finding his transfer budget this summer was a little less bountiful than expected.

Warnock said: “I thought I’d have a few million, if I’m honest. I was disappointed but it’s not the end of the world. It would have been nice to have money to spend but it’s just another one of those things… I’d love money, every manager wants money. But it’s not all doom and gloom.” The same statement that rejected rumours of a Taarabt departure revealed that should the midfielder have left, Warnock would have had the fee available to spend, encouraging but largely a moot point if the board has no intention of selling the player. At least £1.25m has been earmarked for Blackpool striker DJ Campbell, according to Warnock, while current England international Jay Bothroyd and former England international Kieron Dyer have both arrived at Loftus Road, but retaining Taarabt could be more valuable than any of Warnock’s signings so far.

Despite adding Bothroyd and possibly Campbell Warnock is said to be in the market for another striker, with former Rs player Peter Crouch a heavily-discussed option. While Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp has been frustrated so far in his desire to reshape his squad, and may be open to selling the England striker to generate funds, whether the QPR hierarchy would sanction the transfer is another matter. The purchase of the England regular would constitute a banner signing for the newly-promoted side, perhaps enough to convince Ecclestone and Briatore to loosen the purse strings a little, but a likely £6m+ price tag and high end wages may dissuade the club’s wealthy backers from authorising the move. Former Portsmouth forward Danny Webber, Fulham’s Andrew Johnson and Robbie Keane, another unwanted Spurs striker, have also been suggested as targets.

Wayne Routledge, who spent the end of last season on loan at Loftus Road, has been linked with a permanent switch to QPR, but Warnock is joined in his admiration of the winger by Swansea City and a string of Championship sides. Ex-West Ham United defender Daniel Gabbidon, after a trial with QPR, is expected to sign a contract to cross London and remain in the Premier League having been mentioned by Ecclestone and Briatore in their statement published on Saturday, while the co-owners also revealed the club hopes to add at least one or two other players to the squad in the near future. Former Wolverhampton Wanderers and Reading goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann, another free agent, could be drafted in to provide competition between the posts for Paddy Kenny and Radek Cerny, but the United States stopper is also interesting Swansea who could offer Hahnemann more of a promise of first team football having lost Dorus de Vries.

Warnock himself has been the focus of much of QPR’s summer news as any transfers. The manager’s comments on his transfer budget quoted earlier, amongst others, drew a softly-worded rebuke from Ecclestone and Briatore. They said: “We are aware of some issues that have been raised in the press by the coach… and he has agreed to be more reserved in terms of what he discusses in the future.” Reserved is not often a word that can accurately be used to described the former Sheffield United manager, but ahead of his second Premier League campaign, with a side orchestrated more by the technique of Taarabt than the tenacity of the hard-working but limited Blades side relegated in controversial circumstances in 2006-07, the 62-year-old may find less on the field to raise his heckles. Holding on to Taarabt – for now, at least, but an impressive first six months may raise the issue again in January – should help the underrated Warnock to a more successful spell than his last in the top flight.

In

Kieron Dyer MID – West Ham United, free

Jay Bothroyd FWD – Cardiff City, free

Out

Mikele Leigertwood MID – Reading, undisclosed

Pascal Chimbonda DEF – released

Gavin Mahon MID – released

Interested in

DJ Campbell FWD – Blackpool

Peter Crouch FWD – Tottenham Hotspur

Daniel Gabbidon DEF – unattached

Marcus Hahnemann GK – unattached

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