Among the millions that PSG spent, a youngster has been making noises in Paris. Aakriti Mehrotra tells us more on Adrien Rabiot.
Paris Saint-Germain have recently become synonymous with spending millions and bringing in established, proven players to compete for trophies on all fronts. However, people forget that the club has an excellent academy, where the young players hatch the dreams of making their way up the ranks of the club’s establishment and getting to play alongside stars like Thiago Silva, Zlatan Ibrahimovich and Edinson Cavani, and of becoming the future of the Parisian giants. Adrien Rabiot is one such exciting prospect, that can very well go on to be the future of PSG, and one they can boast of having nurtured from the very early days.
Who is Adrien Rabiot?
Rabiot first started his career playing in the suburbs of Paris for US Creteil Lusitanos before Manchester City, at the time not under the current moolah factories from UAE, came offering him a place in their academy. Rabiot was 13 at the time. Reports suggest that Rabiot struggled with the life in Manchester as he was unable to communicate with his teammates and coaches and thus decided to leave England within six months of signing for the Premier League club, and go back to his native country. His boyhood club, Paris Saint Germain, went on to sign him and the youngster quickly made his way up the ranks.
He received his first first team chance during PSG’s pre-season tour of 2012/13. Carlo Ancelotti gave him his professional debut in the upcoming season and Rabiot managed to make 9 appearances for the club. Ancelotti understood that the club needed some home-grown players in the line-up as well to keep a ‘sense of identity’, at a time when PSG was very evidently spending millions to climb its way to the top. The Italian used Clément Chantôme, Mamadou Sakho and Rabiot to ensure this. He was later sent off on loan to Toulouse to get more playing time and continue his footballing development. Rabiot went on to make 13 appearances for the club during his short loan spell.
Talent Radar Accolades:
It was reported by Sky Sports that a host of English clubs that included Newcastle United, West Bromwich Albion and West Ham United were following Rabiot’s progress and wanted to sign the player. The midfielder became more of a regular in the following season as he featured in 25 league games, starting 12; seven Champions League games, starting two; and four domestic cup games, starting three. In total, Rabiot featured in 34 games for PSG last season and scored three times and grabbed an assist.
The 19 year old has so far represented his nation at all levels between the U-16 and the U-21. He is yet to receive a national call-up, but remains hopeful of a chance to represent Les Bleus in the Euro Championship in 2016, which will be hosted by his country.
Rabiot featured in our list of 100 Best Young Players to Watch in 2016.
Style of Play, Strengths and Weaknesses
Rabiot is capable in playing anywhere in the midfield, from the holding role to a more box to box attacking role. He can be likened to compatriot Paul Pogba, without the bulky physique. He can smoothly shift from the back to the front during the course of the match and also acts as the engine room for the team when he gets enough time in a match. His deep lying playmaker role has seen him starting some mouth-watering moves. He usually sits in the centre and operates between the defense and the attack, thus not becoming completely a defensive midfielder, which usually sees the player acting like the third central defender or a shield to the defence, or becoming an out and out attacking midfielder for the team. Instead he sits in the centre and starts plays from the heart of the pitch. If Marco Verratti and Rabiot stay with the French giants, the two could make a formidable midfield pairing for PSG.
Rabiot’s biggest strength is his positioning and his control on the ball. His tactical awareness makes him a threat at a tender age of 19. He is of a slight built, despite being 6 ft 2 inches, so he can’t physically beat an opponent, but his vision help him exploit even small holes on the pitch and he cleverly finds space to either move forward or pass the ball to a teammate. Rabiot attempts a lot of through balls and when they come off, they are exquisite to watch. Which brings us to his passing. The 19 year old is accurate with his passes and likes to play short passes. He is an engine room in the midfield constantly running ahead and also tracking back. His performance against Montepiller in PSG’s last game of the season saw him scoring a goal and being a constant threat in the midfield by keeping the momentum of the game going. His passes can be seen in the populated graph- he completed 91% of his attempted passes.
However, he doesn’t attempt a lot of long passes, so this is an area he can possibly better in the coming years. His shooting is a department of his game which is still rough. In 25 league appearances last season, Rabiot had 7 shots on target and 11 off target. Another weakness in his game is the lack of willingness to enter a tackle. His lanky physique involuntary doesn’t let him enter a tackle.
However, the player has been seen trying to better this side of his game and hence he probably would be better in this department in a few years as well. The frightening part is that this is only going to better from here and with regular game time and correct guidance, the Frenchman can go on to become one of the most astute midfielders in the next five-six years.
Adrien Rabiot has the potential to become one of Europe’s best midfielders. His education thus far has been conducted to an absolute tee but there is a danger in the lad thinking he is better than he actually is. At just 19 years of age he needs to realise that he is not the finished article. The scenario surrounding his contract has become tiresome at the club – especially with his mother constantly voicing her opinion in the press – and the fact that he rejected the latest offer means he will probably end up in Italy very soon. Ever since Yohan Cabaye arrived at the club, his attitude has soured and looks seemingly ready to throw in the towel rather than fight for his place. It is a shame but there is no denying the kid’s ability.
The potential is there and we saw it first-hand in a pre-season friendly against Barcelona in the summer of 2012 where he put in a superb display in the midst of the world class stars. He went on to play in the Champions League in the months that followed before a loan to Toulouse which really was the making of him. Regular first-team football and filling the void left by Moussa Sissoko who went to Newcastle United, underlined just what a top player the Frenchman can become.
He returned to Paris where he had a very bright start to 2014 but he picked up an injury against Bordeaux which set him back a couple of months. Ever since, he has been playing catch up and much of the talk about him has been about his future. With just a year left it looks as if he will be seeking pastures new but whoever acquires him will be getting a player with bags of potential.
If he can keep his head straight, focus on getting in a first-team and staying there like he did with TToulouse, then he can become undoubtedly one of France’s marquee names in the coming years.
You can read all our Scout Reports here. What are your thoughts on Rabiot? Let us know with a comment below.