Departing QPR boss Mark Warburton says Ilias Chair has the talent to play in the Premier League but still has a lot to improve on in his game.
Chair was the outstanding player in Rangers’ 1-0 win over Swansea as Warburton bowed out on a positive note after his contract was not renewed following a dismal run of form that saw his side drop out of the play-off places.
The 24-year-old has flourished under Warburton, going from an impact player off the bench in his first season to becoming a key member of the team and a full international with World Cup-bound Morocco.
Chair ended the season with a career-high nine goals, but his form has mirrored that of the team in the second half of the campaign, after picking up an ankle injury against Bournemouth in December.
Despite still recovering from that problem, he travelled to the Africa Cup of Nations almost immediately after that match but featured for just 13 minutes of Morocco’s campaign.
Upon his return to W12 Chair struggled to recreate the dynamic displays he delivered earlier in the season and Warburton said his and team’s loss of form did have an effect on the young playmaker.
“When I came in to the club Ilias had just come back on loan from Stevenage, but I knew about him in my preparation for the job,” Warburton said.
“I immediately had nine or 10 phone calls from teams in League One and Two wanting him. So that tells you he has done well on that developmental loan.
“It was the same with Ebere Eze when he went out. Good players go out and learn.
“Straightaway, Ilias had to improve his decision making. He was shooting from 35-40 yards out, and was so enthusiastic, always wanting that one extra pass.
“Even now, has too many touches sometimes. I tell him ‘move the ball quickly, use your talent’. But I think he has developed really nicely.
“I have a really close relationship with Ilias. We talk every day about what he needs to do better, what he does well, what he can do better.
“He still has moments where he shows disappointment too easily – his body language could be better sometimes.
“But he is a very talented boy and he will try now to break into the national team and take his game to the next level. But he must keep moving forward, that is vitally important to him.”
Warburton said the mixed fortunes of Said Benrahma since getting his big-money move to West Ham from Brentford following a strong season in the Championship shows the step up in class that is needed.
“Ilias could of course play in the Premier League, but you can do as opposed to what you do do are two entirely different things,” he said.
“I am not being negative towards at all, but you look at people like Benrahma going from Brentford to West Ham.
“You can look at the level of player, but it is what they need to do and and how they impact at that higher level that is important.
“There are players in this team as well as Ilias who are desperate to play in the Premier League; Sam Field, Luke Amos, Rob Dickie, Jimmy Dunne, Chris Willock.
“Have they got the potential? Yes. but they have to keep pushing. But I have no doubt there are one or two diamonds in there.
“The spine of this squad is intact and I look forward to watching their progress from afar.”