Slowly but surely, Adrien Rabiot has won his place in the rarefied atmosphere of the Paris Saint-Germain midfield.
Six matches in 2012 before a loan spell with Toulouse FC, and a score of matches per season since his return to the capital – now Rabiot is such a key member of Unai Emery’s team that this season he is the second most-used outfield player, behind Edinson Cavani.
When Blaise Matuidi left at the start of this campaign and was not replaced, it was a sure sign of confidence in the home-grown product.
“I never said to myself: ‘Blaise is leaving and now I will play’. Every year, my aim has been to play, whoever was there,” Rabiot told This Is Paris on beIN Sports. “But it’s true he left a place in the starting XI, but that was also what the club wanted, to move forward with me and that’s what I wanted too, so it’s good.”
Rabiot added: “It’s proof that the coach is counting on me, that I am an important player in the squad and that I’m doing the job on the pitch. If I were not, then I wouldn’t be playing. That’s the proof. But I’m also happy because I’ve always asked for this, I’ve always wanted to play as much as possible. I’m very happy to have made a place for myself in this team and to be playing so much.”
With Marco Verratti missing, the 22-year-old is set to have a key role to play in the midfield engine room when Montpellier Hérault SC – complete with the meanest defence in the division – visit the Parc des Princes on Saturday.
“I feel like I progress a little more each season, that I keep improving, find a little more consistency, that’s the main thing I’m looking for,” Rabiot added. “This season, a little bit more than last, which was more than the year before…That’s the main aim for a player and it’s the same for everyone, to keep progressing each year, to keep moving forward. That’s what I am looking for.”
Follow Lyon’s lead
A product of the club’s youth academy, the young France international isn’t the only titi parisien lighting up the Parc des Princes. Alphonse Aréola is currently the number one between the posts and Presnel Kimpembe is regularly called upon in central defence.
“They are both players that have worked very hard, Presnel and Alphonse. And they are both very talented, otherwise they wouldn’t be here. We can see it each and every match, they deserve to be there, and I think it’s great that we’re here, that we are an example to the youngsters coming through the ranks that think perhaps it’s too hard to succeed at PSG and prefer to join another youth academy.
“I think we are really giving a good image of the club and the academy is proud of what we’re doing because they helped us get here. It’s also a reward for all their hard work. We are very proud to represent our club, our city, throughout the football world.
“I think it’s also important for the club, for the fans from Paris, that have supported the club for so long, can identify with this type of player. It’s important that there aren’t only players from other regions, from overseas. It’s important that the fans can see themselves in local players like us.”
Rabiot now wants PSG to go even further and follow the example of Lyon, whose academy continues to churn out impressive talent. Indeed last weekend Lyon’s local talent was at heart of their 2-1 victory against Paris.
“What Lyon are doing is excellent. They bring through even more homegrown players than Paris. They’ve developed a lot of very good players. It’s a source of pride for them, and I think if PSG could do even more that would be good.
“We have to take Lyon’s example. I admire what (Lyon president) Jean Michel-Aulas is doing. I think clubs must focus more and more on youth development. There are so many good players in France. He takes advantage and that’s a good thing.”