The gifted Adrien Rabiot is frustrating everyone at PSG, but it may not solely be the player to blame for the situation.
“It is possible that (Adrien) Rabiot will leave us before the end of the transfer window, but I will not tell you his destination.”
That was Paris Saint-Germain coach Laurent Blanc’s response when questioned about the future of one of the French champions’ most prized youth academy products, midfielder Adrien Rabiot, in a press conference ahead of the dour 0-0 draw at Evian Thonon Gaillard last Friday.
"The best solution for me is that Rabiot stays at PSG,” Blanc continued. “The only problem is that we don't share that opinion. He has a year left on his contract and you know what that means. I don't know how it will finish. We'll see. We have done a lot of things for Adrien, because we like the player, we like the boy, but there comes a time when you can go no further.”
It appears that the supremely gifted 19-year-old may well have played his last game for the French capital outfit and speculation over an offer from English Premier League side Arsenal is growing. Out injured at present with a foot problem, PSG’s No. 25 is not likely to return before the end of the month and may well leave the Ligue 1 champions before the transfer window slams shut in just over one week’s time.
Rabiot leaving PSG would be a great shame for the French giants, but it seems his head has been turned and not by the calibre of club chasing his signature. For some time now, it has been clear that the player’s advisor – his mother Veronique – believes that the teenager’s future lies away from the Parc des Princes, not necessarily the player.
Blanc even hinted as much after also stating his belief that the French youth international is good enough to become a regular in the PSG side.
"I think he has a great opportunity at PSG because he has the qualities to play at the club. But I think that his entourage don't have the same opinion as me,” he said. “I respect that, but I think his entourage are taking advantage of the contract situation the player has. If there wasn't that, we wouldn't be talking about him here."
On the pitch, Rabiot is a classy and technically gifted central midfielder, capable of playing out wide and in a more advanced role when asked. The fluffy-haired youngster made an impression on his debut – aged just 17 – in a preseason friendly against Spanish giants Barcelona and his stock continued to rise in the two seasons that followed.
Tuttosport: Adrien Rabiot's "entourage" (mother) has now rejected a 2-year loan move to AC Milan. Would have required signing new PSG deal.— Jonathan Johnson (@Jon_LeGossip) August 25, 2014
Even his waif-like physique does not hold him back in the rough and tumble of Ligue 1 football, instead it just forces Rabiot to utilise his excellent footballing brain.
Following his recent injury and the arrival of French international Yohan Cabaye in January, Rabiot is now being told by his mother that he has a greater chance of regular game time elsewhere. Quite how a 19-year-old can think that he commands better than 25 appearances (12 starts) in le Championnat alone last season is baffling.
However, it appears that Rabiot and his entourage were not satisfied with him being the 12th most used player in les Parisiens’ squad last season and his mother is pushing the player towards forcing a move before the summer transfer window closes.
“He needs to play regularly in high-level matches,” his mother Veronique was quoted as saying to Le Parisien earlier this summer. “Since February he has only started five times in the league and once in the Champions League.”
"He cannot afford to spend a season on the bench. At his age, if you do not progress, you regress. His ambition is to join the French national team at Euro 2016. Staying at PSG seems very difficult.”
For a start, if she followed Rabiot’s form and performances closely enough, she would have realised the reason for his marginalised inclusion since February was a knee injury picked up in late January. As a result, PSG had to go into the transfer market to replace him and brought in Cabaye who is now a positional rival.
Rabiot never really recovered from the problem before the end of the season and struggled for fitness. However, even behind the likes of Cabaye, Thiago Motta, Blaise Matuidi and Marco Verratti, the young Frenchman should not be complaining.
He is closer to PSG’s starting XI than many other equivalents are at various European sides, so why the rush to leave then?
To understand Veronique’s overbearing nature and Adrien’s loyalty towards his mother, it is necessary to mention their main uniting factor. The player’s father, Michel, is terminally ill and was a great influence on him before succumbing to locked-in syndrome. Now bed-ridden, his unfortunate illness means that the youngster is all his mother has left to protect and it seems unlikely that he will ditch her for a better respected representative out of solidarity.
Veronique claims that her son is targeting a place in France’s 2016 UEFA European Championship squad and, while that may be true, the PSG starlet needs to be realistic.
With les Bleus, as with almost any other team in Europe right now, there will be older and more established players ahead of him in the pecking order and it is simply a question of the player maturing naturally before being called up to the senior French side.
A move to Arsenal, or anywhere else for that matter, is not necessarily going to speed up that process.
Add in the player’s newly developed injury proneness and the cautionary tale of the player’s short-lived spell with Manchester City’s youth academy in the pre-United Arab Emirates investment era – ended by his mother’s interference and over-protective nature – and the smart move would be to stay put and continue to enjoy the playing time handed to him by Blanc.
That does not seem possible with his mother in the picture though.
So, it looks increasingly likely that PSG will be cashing in on this prodigious young talent before the end of the summer and the French champions will no doubt be criticised for allowing another one of their best young talents to leave in order to further their career.
This is one that cannot really be attributed to PSG though. If anyone is to blame for the current situation of the 19-year-old, it is his mother. She, more than competition for places or Rabiot’s inflated sense of self worth has created this conflict and could prove to be the player’s most significant obstacle one the road to ultimate success in the coming years.