A report in the Portuguese press emerged last week linking the Rio Ave captain, Tarantini, with a move to Ibrox. Like many others, my efforts to establish some background to the Portuguese midfielder produced little else apart from a short YouTube highlights reel along with the uninspiring realisation that he was a 31 year old attacking midfielder whose goalscoring record left a lot to be desired.
So with that in mind, I tracked down Rio Ave blogger, Gil Ribeiro Silva, in the hope that he could enlighten us to what the chances are of us signing his club’s skipper and what sort of player we would be getting if the deal does go through.
After establishing he spoke English better than most of us, Gil started off by telling us why the midfielder is affectionately known as ‘Tara’ by the Rio Ave fans: “Tarantini got his nickname apparently because in his youth he resembled the former Argentinian footballer Alberto Tarantini. His real name is Ricardo Monteiro. We usually call him “Tara” for short.”
In the days following Warburton’s appointment, we have been linked with many British-based players such as Stuart Dallas, Lewis MacLeod, Scott Allan, Danny Wilson, James Tavernier and impending signing Rob Kiernan, so the name ‘Tara’ came from somewhat left-field.
With only one newspaper report to go on it could be nothing more than a rumour, but when asked if he thought there was any substance to the speculation, Gil seemed confident that there was definitely interest from our side: “I believe the rumours are true. It’s known the player is looking for a good contract for the final years of his career. Rangers might not be playing Premiership football next season, but the club has a history of glory and could easily meet Tara’s wage expectations.”
Rangers are not the only clubs interested though as he pointed out that in the last few months there were reports that Spanish side Levante – Roberts Sarver’s latest interest – and Ligue 1 teams Montpellier and Bastia were interest in his services.
Quizzed on whether the interest in ‘Tara’ hinged on Ian Cathro getting the Rangers managerial job or whether it was just a co-incidence that we were interested in one of his former players, Gil was unable to give clarity on the situation: “Hard to tell. Still, I wouldn’t rule out the possibility. Cathro and Tarantini worked together for 2 seasons while Cathro was Nuno Espirito Santos’s assistant manager. Had Cathro been chosen to be your next manager I’d have no doubts he was responsible for the rumours.”
Wikipedia had unreliably informed us that Tarantini was an attacking midfielder and the YouTube clip showed a few nice touches going forward as well as a great volleyed goal but Gil was able to quash the myths surrounding his position and playing style that had circulated on social media.
“Tarantini is a box-to-box midfielder. He’s quite versatile and in emergency situations can also be used as a central defender. He’s not a very technical footballer. He prefers a more practical approach to the game. I’d say his strengths were his mobility, versatility, vision of the game, intelligence and leadership qualities while his lack of pace is his only weakness.”
“On attacking transitions, he doesn’t like to hold onto the ball for too long, instead making instinctive decisions and sharp passes. He is constantly on the move looking to provide his teammates with an option to receive the ball. Defensively, he’s a tough marker. If he manages to adapt easily to Scotland (culture, weather, food etc) a more physical football won’t be a problem for him to deal with.”
Warburton has repeatedly emphasised the importance of any new singings ‘adding value’ both on and off the pitch, with the promise of rooting out any bad apples in the dressing room. He also spoke about the need to build a squad of young, hungry players who could learn off of experienced pros. At 31, with European experience, Gil thinks Tara fits the bill: “Tara is a natural leader on and off the pitch and that’s precisely one of the reasons why our President is keen for him to stay and, in turn, increase his wages. He’s very important in the dressing room; he’s a motivator and he’s highly respected by other footballers.”
Warburton’s career as a City trader is not the most common career path into football mamagement, but like our new gaffer Tarantini is a strong academic with a “very clean head” as Gil put it: “He’s very, very humble. He recently completed his MBA in Sport Science – a fact highly publicized in Portugal – so he is an intelligent guy, with a good character and low profile off the pitch. He’s also married to a medical doctor”
So he may not replicate Allan McGregor’s off-field scoring credentials but his value to Rio Ave’s side hasn’t gone unnoticed by their supporters: “When he arrived at the club he wasn’t too popular nor was his work greatly appreciated. He was regarded as a footballer who had no impact on our game. But the manager at that time (Carlos Brito, a legend with us) said his critics were wrong, that Tarantini was the man who made all the invisible work on the pitch and his contribution was huge.”
“Brito was right. Sometimes it appears Tara is not always involved in the game, but it’s when he’s not playing that everybody realises just how important he is. He is one of the most influential, if not the most influential players. He never has a bad game and scores a few goals. Ageing has made him a better player, his ability to read the game is impressive. Over the last six seasons, our blog has awarded a “player of the season” prize for our best footballers. Tarantini is the only player to have won the prize twice in consecutive years. This season he was third though.”
Gil, clearly a big fan of Tara, is dumbfounded as to why no big clubs have swooped in to prise the club captain away from Portugal: “One question I asked myself several times during his seven years with Rio Ave: why haven’t stronger teams tried to sign him? He’s more than capable of coping with pressure and has all the right qualities. One thing he might not have: a good agent… I’m sure he’d love to play for Rangers.”
He may love to play for Rangers but I suggested that our budget may not be able to entice a player looking to see out his playing days with one last payday. However, when I mentioned that he would be looking at wages of somewhere around £5-10k a week, Gil seemed confident that amount would satisfy the midfielder: “I am convinced that if he was offered £10,000 per week Tarantini would sign immediately since Rio Ave’s highest earner makes around £20,000 per month.”
If Warburton is keen and it was not a transfer target for Cathro, it seems that there would be no financial obstacle in the way nor any lack of ambition form the player. Though, as a club they are united in wanting their leader to stay for at least another year or even beyond that in some other capacity.
“The President of Rio Ave told us he would do everything he could to keep the player at the club. Am I keen for him to stay? If it depended on us, Tarantini would stay forever whether that was now as a footballer or later on as a member of the staff and\or board of Directors. The guy is a gem!”
So a glowing report on our reported target Tarantino. If he is signed, hopefully he will bring a much needed authority to the midfield as not only would he compliment Murdoch playing alongside him in the double-pivot, he would give Law or whoever is playing in a more advanced role the license to roam.
If you want to see all the information Gil has gathered on Tarantini, follow this link. http://reisdoave.blogspot.pt/search/label/Tarantini