Player Profiles: Adrien Rabiot
Imagine Luciano Pavarotti’s immense opera playing in the background to you admiring the Amalfi coast and all its beauty, whilst opening a bottle of Cognac. Well, that best describes what it is like to watch Adrien Rabiot grace the Parc des Princes pitch. It is a sight to behold.
Coming through the academy at PSG, Rabiot made his proper breakthrough during the 13/14 campaign and since then has amassed over 30 appearances every season since. And as they say, durability is the best ability. If Arsenal or Barcelona do decide to splash out the reported €40 million, then they may have a real gem on their hands. The Blaugrana look to be the more attractive option, as according to Sports Illustrated, Rabiot “does not believe in the PSG project” and there is an understanding that Barca will allow him to play in the 8 role more than the 6, which he is currently occupying at PSG.
The 6-foot-3 defensive midfielder has started to show what he’s really about in recent years. Able to operate in the 6 and the 8 effectively, Rabiot is best categorised as a deep-lying playmaker, who isn’t afraid in the final third and knows his defensive responsibilities. Somewhat of an upgraded version of Granit Xhaka, sorry Arsenal fans. Comfortable receiving the ball deep within his own half and finding the right pass, it is no surprise that Valverde of Barcelona and Emery of Arsenal have their eyes on the 23 year old French midfielder. Nothing ever seems rushed with Rabiot, even in pressure situations such as a high zonal press in his own half, he will stay calm, highlighted by his 92% pass completion (thanks WhoScored). Using his large frame to hold off players as he uses his underrated speed to get past players is a certain in every game for Adrien.
However, if someone does decide to acquire the midfielder, they will surely want to see Rabiot contribute more directly to goals. Last season, he only was involved in 11 goals in 49 appearances. In hindsight, this was likely due to the role Rabiot was playing, with the midfielder more likely to get second assists and have pivotal roles in driving the team forward before a goal. Defensively, he only was shown 2 yellow cards in Ligue 1, but this is due to the fact Rabiot is not seen in the challenge for the Parisian side, with Marco Verratti the main dispossessor in the midfield. If handed more defensive responsibility, Rabiot would need to grow this side of his game quickly as the Catalan club is a harsh environment for players, with the very best demanded and expected from their fans.
Within the right system, Rabiot could become a world-beater and, at 23, he has all the time in the world, but with his stock high this summer, it may be time for him to seek greener pastures and develop his game even more, especially if he wants to force his way into a packed French midfield.
Overall I feel PSG have a diamond in the rough with Rabiot, but his keenness to move on may mean it is time for them to cash in on the academy graduate, and for more than the reported figure, as many teams are looking for this calming presence in midfield. A figure upward of €60 million would be more fitting considering some of the figures being paid recently.