Why Barcelona should be scared of Rabiot’s agent and mother

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The Blaugrana are favourites to sign the Paris Saint-Germain midfielder on a free transfer this summer but he may not be worth the trouble

While the prospect of signing Adrien Rabiot may be a tantalising one for big clubs all over Europe, it is one that comes with one major drawback: the midfielder's agent and mother.

Neymar’s father may have caught the spotlight over the years but if awards were given for being a demanding parent-agent, Veronique Rabiot would be a Ballon d’Or winner.

Throughout the career of her 23-year-old son, she has stood at his side advising him, guiding him from youth level to international star, but also fuelling his arrogance to a level rarely so evident even among the world’s biggest stars.

“If I gave him advice on what to do on the park, he’d laugh in my face,” she told L’Equipe in 2015. “Off the park, I give him guidance, especially how to speak in front of a TV camera.”

Such has been the storm that Rabiot has had whipped up around him by Veronique's "guidance", Paris Saint-Germain fans will be quite content to see the back of the academy graduate.

For all his undoubted talent, his haughty nature has simply worn thin among his employers and his own club's supporters, with the Ultras displaying a message stating 'Rabiot Blackliste' prior to Christmas.

Veronique has failed to temper the tantrums of her son and has even fed them, overprotecting him to such a degree that it seems he does not know how absurd he appears at times.

For example, when left out of France’s 2018 World Cup squad but placed on the standby list, he ridiculously refused that spot and instead went on holiday.

It was a predictable show of petulance that merely justified Didier Deschamps' decision to leave him out of his 23, as it had been attitude, not ability, that had convinced the coach to pick Steven N’Zonzi ahead of Rabiot.

“It was cold and I was not warmed up, I was afraid of hurting myself,” Rabiot had complained in October 2017 after an indifferent substitute performance against Bulgaria, clearly missing the cotton wool that has mother has endeavoured to wrap him in.

But that episode goes a long way towards explaining Deschamps' long-held distrust of such a gifted but temperamental player.

The stroppy response to being overlooked for Russia 2018, thus, provided the Bleus boss with all the grounds he needed to ditch Rabiot for good. Deschamps simply decided that he would be better off without Rabiot, and now PSG have come to the same conclusion.

He is currently out in the cold in Paris, with his entourage having pushed to the point of no return at Parc des Princes, goading the club publicly and even arguing that Adrien’s human rights have been impinged.

And yet his natural ability means that clubs such as Bayern Munich and Barcelona are still interested in signing him.

Admittedly, life away from football has not been straightforward for the Rabiots. The family was struck by the trauma of his father suffering a stroke a decade ago that has left him almost entirely paralysed, save for movement in his eyes and eyelids.

She, thus, took sole control of Adrien's footballing career, understandably doing everything possible to protect her son and develop his talent.

Her rather bullish approach created problems right from the start, though, with Veronique demanding the umost respect for her son as soon as he had broken into the PSG first team.

Within months of Rabiot being handed his debut at the astonishingly green age of 16, she was clashing with Champions League-winning coach Carlo Ancelotti.

Adrien had been invited on a first-team training camp in Doha but Veronique refused to let him go – she was unhappy the wives and girlfriends had been offered an invitation to travel to Qatar and she had not.

The upshot was that he was shunted out on loan to Toulouse for the second half of the season, which proved beneficial for his development as he earned more regular minutes at Ligue 1 level.

TFC head coach Alain Casanova was impressed by Rabiot – but not his mother.

Adrian Rabiot Alain Casanova Toulouse mother PS

“He never caused a problem,” he told SFR Sport. “I had an issue with his mother on the first day. She wanted to be at all the training sessions, but I refused that. I didn’t want him to be uncomfortable with his team-mates, who would have seen that his mum was at the edge of the park.”

This taste for first-team football, though, left him wanting more. Still only 19 and faced with the prospect of breaking into a midfield containing Marco Verratti, Thiago Motta, Javier Pastore and Blaise Matuidi, the first real crisis point of his PSG career arrived in the summer of 2014.

Veronique announced that her son was deserving of more regular game time and refused to extend his contract with the club, which was due to expire at the end of the season. It was an action that Laurent Blanc – who had replaced Ancelotti at the helm – treated severely.

Blanc’s relationship with Rabiot had been frosty for months. The youngster had asked the coach in February if he could play a youth cup match instead of travelling with the first team, but Blanc turned him down, giving him a mere minute of pitch time in Toulouse as compensation.

So, when news reached him that no new deal for the young midfielder could be agreed, he was content to freeze him out of the team until a new five-year contract was signed – reportedly one of the best in the world for a teenager at that time.

Later that season, there was more strife, although reports vary as to whether it was team-mate Zlatan Ibrahimovic or Blanc he riled on this occasion.

What is certain, though, is that he was running late for the bus to take the team to the Coupe de France final against Auxerre when it was decided that the coach would leave without him.

Rabiot was asked to make his own way to the Stade de France but never did, returning instead to his family home in Saint-Germain-en-Laye on the outskirts of the capital. It was a strop even Veronique could not talk him out of.

Adrien Rabiot GFX

Since then, there have been flashes of his hubristic tendencies. He clashed more than once with Ibrahimovic and went public on his desire to change his role in the team to a more attacking one.

However, there were no major incidents until it came to negotiations regarding a new deal in the middle of 2018.

Veronique admitted in December that the situation had “totally deteriorated” since the summer, though she pedalled a story that contrasted heavily with the one pushed by PSG sporting director Antero Henrique.

“During the summer transfer window, I told Henrique that I wanted him to put Adrien on the transfer list since he clearly said he wanted to leave the club,” she told RTL. “There was a bid from Barcelona but the club did not wish to sell.”

Herrique responded via RMC : “I was surprised. Madame Rabiot said that we received a proposal this summer. That’s right: on August 29 at 8pm. It’s simple: it means that Barcelona had agreed a deal with Rabiot before talking to us.

“Their bid was ridiculous. We were very surprised by the low bid. It was disrespectful for a player of his standing. And it’s impossible to make personal terms with a player like Adrien in 24 hours. So, it’s clear that Barca already had an agreement with him.”

That the French Players’ Union (UNFP) have elected to support Rabiot in the case, however, is proof, according to Veronique, that her son’s “human rights” have been impinged.

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In the meantime, Adrien was sanctioned for showing up late to a team meeting for a big match against Marseille. While Kylian Mbappe – who suffered the same fate of being relegation to the bench – responded positively to the treatment, it simply seemed to feed the resentment of the Rabiot entourage towards the club.

Rabiot’s situation has, thus, become increasingly toxic, an ugly, awkwardly public spectacle that contrasts starkly with the grace and elegance he displays on the field.

It is, however, typical of how his affairs have been handled throughout his career. Barcelona would be well advised to brace themselves for more of the same, from Rabiot – and his agent/mother.

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