The London Evening Standard reports Taraabt refuses to play at the same club as Barton.
“The Rangers hierarchy are fully aware Barton has become a disruptive presence in the squad,” the report says. “Rumours of a dressing room rift persisted throughout last season and it is understood that Barton and Taarabt have not been on speaking terms for several months following two separate training ground incidents.
“Barton is believed to have launched into rash tackles on the Moroccan international after becoming irritated by his relaxed attitude towards training. It is understood that Taarabt’s lawyers contacted the club to warn them they would sue Barton if he injured their client in training.”
Taarabt is a player around whom QPR has hopes of building its team of the future. The 23-year-old set the Championship alight in 2010-11, scoring 19 goals and assisting on 23 more. His dynamism in the attack was key to QPR winning promotion to the Premier League.
But the Moroccan was unable to carry the form that earned him Championship Player of the Year honors into the top-flight. He played in 27 of 38 league games, but only notched two goals and five assists. Some of his inconsistency could be due to adjusting to a higher level of competiton. But the rift with Barton couldn’t have helped his situation either.
Barton joined QPR from Newcastle in late August. Then-manager Neil Warnock made him club captain, despite his status as a new arrival. When Warnock was fired in January and replaced by Mark Hughes, Barton retained the captaincy. He was at times praised and booed by his QPR fans, as the team went through a roller-coaster of a late-season relegation struggle.
Barton’s explosive tendencies got the best of him on the last day of the campaign, when he was sent off for elbowing Manchester City’s Carlos Tevez. In a final act of desperation (he later claimed he was trying to get a City player sent off), Barton kicked Sergio Aguero from behind and tried to head-butt Vincent Kompany before he was pulled off the field by teammates. The violent outburst netted him a 12-game ban and a £75,000 ($115,365) fine from the FA.
The 29-year-old is not eligible to play until sometime in November, and QPR is mulling its options. It will cost the West London Club nearly £11 million ($16.9 million) to cut Barton, as his contract runs until 2015. The club is conducting an internal investigation, and may decide he is worth keeping.
Taarabt’s contract expires after next season, and there are a number of clubs interested in signing him. He would be easier to off-load, but QPR would not want to see him leave for a nominal fee, only to become a Premier League star at another club.
With a running dispute between the captain and the (future) star, it’s amazing Queens Park Rangers managed to avoid relegation in the end.
Thumbnail photo via Flickr/jonf45