Le50 2016: Adrien Rabiot – Paris Saint-Germain
Sometimes one has to wonder what is going on in some professional footballers’ heads.
In the middle of December Adrien Rabiot was in a great place: with Marco Verratti struggling with injury the youngster had featured in every game since the middle of October, starting eight out of ten league games during that period. Verratti’s injury was the perfect opportunity for him to step up and he had done exactly that.
So why did Rabiot decide to go public with an interview where he said that he expected the club to allow him to leave on loan if he didn’t get more playing time? In those two months he had missed just 165 minutes of football in the league and it was no surprise that his manager was not amused.
“It annoys me, Adrien has to understand that when you have the possibility of going to the end of your contract and to leave for free, you can do it. Otherwise, when you sign a contract of five years with PSG, you have to respect your first club,” replied Blanc whilst president Nasser Al-Khelaifi also publicly put Rabiot in his place after the youngster was booed during the Champions League game against Shakhtar Donetsk.
With everything that has gone on with Rabiot, from his public outbursts to his outspoken agent, who happens to be his mother Veronique, one would be entitled to wonder why PSG are persisting with him.
Well the answer is because when he does play one is reminded of just what a talented player he is. Rabiot is effortlessly good with the ball at his feet – at times it’s worth taking a moment to remember that he really is just 20 years of age. He is intelligent with his distribution, he can easily beat a man and, perhaps most importantly of all, nothing really seems to faze him.
Against Real Madrid in the Champions League when he had to come on to replace the injured Verratti he was arguably one of the best players on the pitch. Against Chelsea in the Champions League at Stamford Bridge he was crucial as PSG controlled large portions of the game, eventually going through 4-2 on aggregate.
It’s not as if the club don’t think highly of him either: when Al-Khelaifi was ticking him off he did say “he’s a big talent. My dream is that he might become captain of PSG one day. But he has to respect the club, the coach and his teammates.” No player in the current PSG squad can even come close to Rabiot in terms of home-grown status as an academy graduate – after going through Creteil and Manchester City – and it’s important for fans to have a local player they can relate to, even if it is one as annoying and obnoxious as Rabiot.
It’s going to take a big turnaround from Rabiot to realise Al-Khelaifi’s dream of the midfielder being captain but that’s almost the perfect paradox with Rabiot. As irritating, arrogant and idiotic as he has been during the early years there is still so much time for him to turn things around and create a story that is actually worth telling, one that others can be proud of.
This is a kid with the world at his feet in terms of talent and if he could get his head screwed on and focused there’s no telling what he could achieve. For now he just has to be patient and realise that someone like Thiago Motta isn’t going to be able to play forever. Injuries have already increased his playing time and given the youngster an opportunity to showcase his ability.
Patience is the key. Blanc has shown that he will use Rabiot and that he isn’t that far away from the first XI. When he has been given a shot, he has, in most cases, taken that opportunity well. Is it really worth throwing everything away, Adrien, when you’re so close?