‘I can’t stop now’ – Adli aiming for the top with PSG

Yacine Adli NxGn
Getty/Goal Composite
The 17-year-old is in no hurry to break into the first team but is eager to soak up as much knowledge as he can from their star men

Yacine Adli is regarded as the gem of the Paris Saint-Germain academy. The 17-year-old was elected as the club’s outstanding youth prospect last season and was nominated as one of the best 50 teenagers in the world in the 2018 NxGn .

The lanky attacking midfielder is acutely aware that he has not yet achieved anything in the game and knows that he must take strides forward in the weeks, months and years ahead.

“I don’t think these awards have changed my status,” he told Goal . “It’s payback for the work that I do daily. These are nice distinctions but I can’t stop here. Like I say, there’s a lot of work to do and I have to look higher.”

The midfielder has not yet made his first-team debut, but he has been involved in the squad, featuring as an unused substitute in a Coupe de la Ligue victory over Strasbourg. He is not, however, putting any timeline on when he might finally wear the senior shirt.

“I’ll take it as it comes,” he said. “My first goal is to progress and to adapt little by little to the top level. Now, if there’s a chance to play, I’ll take it.”

Unai Emery has shown faith in numerous PSG youngsters, including the likes of Christopher Nkunku and Timothy Weah, who have earned increasingly regular game time as the season has gone on. Adli is on his viewfinder, though, having trained with the squad in Qatar.

“It was a very good apprenticeship,” he admitted, before considering how his game has improved.

“I think I’ve become more mature, largely thanks to my integration into the adult game with the reserves, certain training sessions with the professionals. I’ve also improved technically, tactically thanks to David Hernandez, who I’ve watched a lot of videos with, which has really helped me. 

“But I think there are still some aspects I can improve. I’m aiming higher, so I’m full of things that can make me better.”

As well as working with players such as Neymar and Kylian Mbappe in the first team, he has had the chance to test himself against some of Europe’s top young players in the UEFA Youth League. He found facing Barcelona a particularly enlightening experience.

“That kind of match allows you to evaluate your level a little, but it’s not an end point. Sometimes those matches can pass you by,” he said. “For example, in that game, we didn’t get a chance to play our usual game. That shows us something about playing at a higher level and allows us to learn.

“Barca are a club that have put things in place for a number of years, but PSG’s still young in this regard and we’ll learn little by little.”