THINK of a PSG player and who immediately comes to mind? Neymar, probably. Or maybe Kylian Mbappe. Edinson Cavani or Dani Alves may be chosen or even perhaps Marco Verratti.
They are the high-profile stars. The big money signings who you’ll hear about constantly throughout a season. But so far this season, one of the club’s own has been a shining light; Adrien Rabiot.
The 22-year-old is blossoming into one of the finest central midfield players in Europe. A player capable of dictating the tempo of a game with his range of passing, but one that can also break up opposition attacks with ease.
He has a contract with PSG until 2019 but made interesting comments about his future this week about one day playing in the Premier League.
He was a one-time Arsenal transfer target while Tottenham Hotspur have a long-standing interest, too. Liverpool are also admirers.
So with many potential suitors, we asked our friends at Football Whispers to profile Rabiot and look at who would be most likely to seal his signing if he was to spring a surprise move away from the Parc de Princes.
Who is Adrien Rabiot?
Given Rabiot’s extraordinary talent and the fact he was born in Saint-Maurice, a Paris suburb, it is strange he didn’t end up joining PSG until the age of 15.
Before signing with the Parisians, the midfielder had bounced between several clubs, including a spell with Manchester City in 2008. The precocious talent joined the Premier League side when he was 13 and supposedly agreed a six-year deal which would’ve seen Rabiot turn professional when he turned 17.
But he lasted just six months before returning to France. His mother, Veronique, was reportedly unhappy with the way the City were treating her son.
In May 2010 Rabiot became a PSG player and enjoyed success in the club’s youth ranks. His big break came less than two years after joining the club when then manager Carlo Ancelotti asked reserve team boss Bertrand Reuzeau to send him over some players for a training session.
Rabiot was selected and impressed the Italian so much he brought up to the first-team squad permanently. In June 2012, he signed his first professional contract and was taken on the club’s pre-season tour of the United States that summer.
Ancelotti was a big believer in Rabiot and he handed the midfielder his debut against Bordeaux in August 2012. The 17-year-old started in a midfield three alongside Blaise Matuidi and Thiago Motta and completed an impressive 94 per cent of his passes while on the field.
He would then make his Champions League bow against Dinamo Zagreb in November, becoming the youngest player to represent PSG in the competition.
But his first-team football was limited which is why, while still only 17, he made a loan move to Ligue 1 side Toulouse. He played 13 times for the club, scoring once and assisting a further three goals before returning to the capital.
With experience under his belt and Laurent Blanc now in charge, Rabiot became a regular during the 2013/14 season. He played 34 times to help PSG to the Ligue 1 title and win the Coupe de la Ligue.
The summer of 2014, however, didn’t prove to be a simple one of the midfielder. His performances had earned admiring glances from a number of clubs across Europe, including Arsenal, Juventus and Barcelona.
Rabiot flirted with the idea of moving away. He only had a year remaining on his contract and was reluctant to sign a new deal with PSG, according to Blanc.
“I think he has a great opportunity at PSG but his entourage don’t want to take any notice and want to take advantage of his contractual situation. I think there must be offers. He had a very nice offer from PSG but apparently it’s not interesting. It’s a shame.”
The French club stood firm and refused to sell. Rabiot was banished to the reserves and didn’t play again until November, having then signed a new four-and-a-half year contract with PSG. He would go on to play 33 times in all competitions as the champions retained their title while also winning the Coupe de France.
A little over a year later and Rabiot was again making headlines for the wrong reasons. With interest from Arsenal growing and given he wasn’t a guaranteed starter, Rabiot said in an interview in December 2015 that he wanted to move away on loan the following month.
“I’ve asked the president for a loan move in January if my time on the field is insufficient,” he said. “It’s something that he can’t refuse me – I know he likes me very much.”
But PSG and president Nasser Al-Khelaifi did refuse. Rabiot remained and would go on to start 35 times during the 2015/16 season. It wasn’t, however, enough to secure him a place in the France squad for Euro 2016, he was only on the stand-by list.
Rabiot has since gone from strength to strength. He is now one of Unai Emery’s first-choice starters and is quickly becoming one of the finest midfielders in Europe. PSG will want to ensure another contract is signed in the coming months.
Is Rabiot likely to leave PSG time soon?
Probably not but he did raise more than a few eyebrows this week after he admitted he would one day want to play in the English top flight.
“I would love to play in the Premier League,” he told RMC Sport. “There’s not necessarily any club in particular, even though when I was young I was a big Liverpool fan.
“Yes, I can understand that my ambition, my impatience can annoy some people. But the main thing is that it has been useful to me, today I am here, sometimes you have to dare to say things.”
How much would he cost?
Given the transfer market exploded this summer, largely down to PSG it has to be said, Rabiot would now be a player who costs around the £100m mark. He would be a starter for nearly every top European side and is only to get better as he gains more experience.
Premier League clubs could pay such a figure but PSG can’t be bullied into selling any player they don’t want to. They’ve proven that with Rabiot in the past.