Man City, Milan and Arsenal missed out - Adrien Rabiot is becoming a PSG iconThe club's lavish spending blocked the progression of the likes of Kingsley Coman but Rabiot forced his way through and is now playing a leading role
It is a testimony to the quality of Adrien Rabiot that during arguably Paris Saint-Germain’s most successful period, he was able to force his way into the first team.
When Kingsley Coman was leaving for Juventus, claiming that Laurent Blanc’s side “ignore” their young talent, Rabiot was earning his spurs as a bit-part player in the capital.
It took a certain degree of force, with his mother and agent Veronique kicking up a fuss in the press when she felt her son was unfairly overlooked, while there was even the possibility of a move to Arsenal or AC Milan that at one stage seemed a likelihood as opposed to a mere possibility.
Two years on, he is firmly established in the rotation of Unai Emery’s side, and even if he is yet to be considered an undisputed starter aged 22, he is recognised as a force throughout Europe.
There has been no staggering breakout, no defining moment, just steady progress that has seen him play over 30 matches this season at club level, while he has amassed three caps for France.
Last week he made his 150th appearance for PSG. On Sunday, he was one of the stars of the show as they saw off Guingamp 4-0.Rabiot made 89 successful passes, had 110 touches and 13 recoveries on the night, the highest tallies in the game.
Rabiot’s journey, however, has been testing. His father suffers from 'Locked-in Syndrome' (LIS) following a stroke and can only move his eyes and eyelids, while a brief stay at Manchester City as a 13-year-old was quickly brought to an end following a contract dispute. Remarkably, the youngster left without letting anyone at the club know he was heading back to his home country.
His mother has also been a talking point throughout his career, with her overbearing attitude too much for some. Saint-Etienne legend Jean-Michel Larque, a popular pundit on French radio, once received a phone call from her asking for advice and commented: “If she called me back, I’d tell her to do the exact opposite of what she thought she should do.”
Through all this, though, Rabiot has flourished.
Carlo Ancelotti handed him his debut the same day as Zlatan Ibrahimovic, in a friendly against Barcelona, and he became the youngest player ever to turn out for the club in Ligue 1 when he featured against Bordeaux on August 26, 2012 - he was 17 years, four months and two days old.
Even then, he stood at over six feet tall (1.81 metres) and clearly had the stature of a modern-day footballer. He is best operating in a screening role in front of the defence, where he has been able to model his game on Thiago Motta, one of the most consistent performers in the position around Europe.
It would seem he has learned well. Of all the members of the PSG squad, he has won more duels than anyone else, with the exception of Marco Verratti, while in terms of percentage of duels won, he lags only Thiago Silva, whose 76 percent success rate is exceptional.
To pigeonhole the young Frenchman as merely a destructive player would be somewhat unfair, as he is capable of playing in a box-to-box role too, but given the talents of those around him, his primary task at the moment is to break up the play as effectively as possible.
No doubt there is more to come from this confident young player, whose steady progress suggests that he can be the lynchpin of PSG for years to come. It was a battle for both parties to reach this stage, but it seems that it has turned out for the best.