Recent reports linking Liverpool to a pre-contract move for Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Adrien Rabiot were promptly squashed this week — but that doesn’t mean we can’t dream, right? LFC Transfer Room’s Drew Diamond (@DrewDiamondLtd) takes a look at the coveted Frenchman’s contract situation, style of play, and what he could potentially bring to Anfield.
Is a move imminent?
Barcelona are reportedly thought to be leading the race to sign the wantaway PSG star before the close of the Spanish window and would have the upperhand. While the English window has been closed for over a week now, Spain’s window remains open until 11.59pm on Friday, August 31.
The Frenchman is due to be out of contract at the end of the current season and therefore is free to arrange a pre-contract agreement with another club in January. This means that, if Rabiot wanted a move to an English club, he would have to stick around the PSG squad for a little while longer.
PSG boss Thomas Tuchel is keen on keeping the 23-year old at the Parc de Princes, as he openly stated after their last league win over Caen.
“For me he’s a great player. He can grow even more and become a top player.”
For Liverpool fans, there’s a glimmer of hope at the end of the tunnel in the form of Rabiot’s public admiration of the club — could the allure of Anfield and Jürgen Klopp’s project be enough to lure him to Merseyside this winter?
Why Rabiot makes sense for Liverpool
The number of “pros” in a potential deal for Rabiot are immense.
The Frenchman is still very young and would only be 24 were he to join Liverpool in the 2019/20 season. This fits perfectly within the profile of typical Klopp signings, as the German is renowned for developing players leading into their peak years. This would also give both sides sufficient time to adjust to each other and, worst case scenario, would offer plenty of potential resale value if it proved a poor fit.
Rabiot is not only a natural winner, but a frequent winner. Having that mentality in a squad never hurts — it’s a surefire way of maintaining and creating a positive atmosphere. Rabiot won the treble with PSG in the 2015-16 season and has racked up 16 major trophies at just 23 years old — an impressive haul.
Rabiot’s main strengths are his passing and interceptions according to whoscored.com. In the 2017/18 campaign, he completed the third most passes in Ligue 1, keeping Europe’s highest-scoring offense ticking.
He has seen himself compared to our very own Naby Keita and reported long time target Leon Goretzka, so he is, theoretically at least, exactly the type of technical player Klopp obviously enjoys working with.
Though predominantly a box-to-box midfielder, Rabiot has also deputised in a more defensive role. This is exactly the kind of tactical and positional flexibility that Klopp likes in the center of the park.
One question mark: attitude
Rabiot’s well-publicised spat with the French national team before this summer’s World Cup raises some potential red flags. It was reported that he had refused to be a stand-by for the star-studded squad and informed national team manager Didier Dechamps by text, which hasn’t helped his growing reputation as a player with a questionable attitude.
Rabiot did later clarify his position went on to apologize both to the fans and directly to the French national team set up. In an open letter, Rabiot went on to state;
“I regret the caricature of me as a young, immature player, who is unable to appreciate the severity of my own actions.
“Being a football player is my profession, but football is also my passion. For me to reach the highest level, I worked over and over. Everything that I have today was earned on the pitch. I also have a dream, like all players, to play for my country. Wearing the blue shirt is an honour for me.”
Obviously Rabiot needs his actions to match his words, but on paper at least, he appears to want to put that behind him.
The last former PSG man with an attitude problem didn’t last long around Klopp’s Liverpool — suffice it to say, any professionalism issues would have to be checked at the door should a move materialize.
One in, one out?
If Rabiot did find himself in the Liverpool squad at the start of the 2019-20 season, it’s likely that we would finally see age catch up with the immovable James Milner, who would turn 34 that season.
It would seem like natural progression within the squad for Milner to relinquish his place in an already crowded midfield and pass the role over to Rabiot.
Similarly, the futures of Adam Lallana and, to a lesser extent, Jordan Henderson hinge largely upon both the calibre of their performances and the their fitness this season.
Wait and see
The main focus for Klopp and the Reds is the season ahead, but if Rabiot remains at PSG through the end of the summer window, don’t be surprised to see speculation ramp as January approaches.
The Frenchman would represent at marquee midfield signing at a substantial price tag — on a free, he would be an absolute steal.
Would you take him at Liverpool?