Adrien Rabiot to Man United: Why Erik ten Hag is taking a big risk to sign Juventus midfielder

Ahead of the start of the Premier League season, Erik ten Hag stressed he’s not worried about Manchester United’s apparent lack of progress in the transfer market.

“You don’t need a player, you need the right player,” he said. “That’s what we work for.”

After that demoralizing 2-1 home defeat by Brighton & Hove Albion, attitudes at United appear to have changed. An offer for Bologna’s Marko Arnautovic had been discussed before the end of the game as Ten Hag had to start without a striker due to Anthony Martial’s injury and Cristiano Ronaldo’s unfitness. A day later, widespread reports in England claimed the Red Devils were serious about signing Adrien Rabiot, with Juventus ready to sack the midfielder a year before his contract expired.

Suddenly it looks like every diligent job United have done on long-term transfer targets has gone out the window. To draw from Lionel Hutz’s real estate phrasebook, “the right player” is now simply the player who is for sale.

Rabiot is hardly unknown at this level: a player with more than 250 appearances in Ligue 1 and Serie A, six league titles and 29 caps in France. But Juventus don’t want him and few, if any, other top sides seem interested.

So why are United trying to get him? What could he bring to Ten Hag’s side? What are the risks involved? The sports news breaks things up.

MORE: How Erik ten Hag explained Man United defeat to Brighton: Red Devils manager speaks of ‘easy goals’ and Cristiano Ronaldo ends in defeat after Premier League debut

Adrien Rabiot’s career: From the PSG prodigy to the Juve problems

The shining star of the City of Light

Rabiot was once dubbed the golden boy of French football. Born in Saint-Maurice, south-east Paris, he played for a handful of youth football clubs and even spent a few months at Manchester City before joining Paris Saint-Germain as a professional in 2012.

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Carlo Ancelotti quickly promoted him to the senior team and gave Rabiot his Ligue 1 debut as a 17-year-old against Bordeaux in August 2012. In light of what was to come, it is ironic that Ancelotti picked Rabiot for the game because he had dropped Jeremy Menez for lack of discipline and Marco Verratti for poor performances in training.

Rabiot soon established himself as a key figure in PSG’s midfield, even when the managerial carousel at Parc des Princes was in full swing. Under Laurent Blanc, who replaced Ancelotti in 2013, he made 109 appearances in all competitions and won three league titles and four national cups, but problems began to emerge behind the scenes – as did his mother’s shadow.


mother, may I?

After Rabiot was dropped for a game by Blanc, the manager was reportedly confronted by an angry figure in the club’s training ground car park. “You can’t do that to him,” announced Veronique Rabiot. “I will not agree to that.” Within a few weeks, the player had received a new contract.

Ms Rabiot has been her son’s agent since his youth football days and has often been criticized for having an overbearing presence. In 2015, when the midfielder was eliminated for the Coupe de France final after arriving late, she told Canal Supporters she was aiming for a transfer for her son so he could have more playing time ahead of Euro 2016. 2015-16 Rabiot made 42 appearances in all competitions but failed to make the France squad for the tournament.

PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi had seen the young midfielder as a future PSG captain, a homegrown figurehead set to lead a team of glittering star signings, but the Rabiots became disruptive. Despite being regulars under Unai Emery in 2017/18, Rabiot and his mother refused to renew his contract, again creating tensions with the club hierarchy. When Didier Deschamps put Rabiot on the 2018 World Cup ready list, Rabiot told the manager he “can’t follow the training program” and he watched Les Bleus win the tournament from home.

AdrienRabiotThiagoSilva - Truncated

Thomas Tuchel replaced Emery and convinced Rabiot not to seek a transfer, but just under two months later the player was dropped for being late to team meetings. By January 2019, he was required to train with the reserves while his contract expired. In March, after Manchester United somehow eliminated PSG from the Champions League round of 16 on away goals, Rabiot was spotted partying at a nightclub after liking an Instagram post by Patrice Evra celebrating the result. He was suspended by the club; Sporting director Antero Henrique described his “attitude and lack of professionalism” as “unacceptable”.

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At that point, Barcelona were weighing an offer for the player but – in an amusing twist given United’s current predicament – ​​they signed Frenkie de Jong from Ajax instead. In July, eight months after his last appearance at PSG, Rabiot signed for Juventus on a free transfer.

Turin breaks

It seemed like a move to Juve and Italy would help breathe new life into Rabiot’s career and there has been success: he made 129 appearances for the Bianconeri, winning the 2020 Serie A and Supercoppa Italiana titles and most recently the Coppa Italia Year.

Unfortunately, he was part of a club in transition. Massimiliano Allegri’s highly successful five-year tenure as coach ended with the arrival of Rabiot, and what followed was a turbulent year under Maurizio Sarri, in which the demands and methods of coach and board were never in harmony. Andrea Pirlo then took charge of the youth team, despite around a week’s coaching experience, and Coppa success couldn’t offset fourth place as Inter Milan ran away with the Scudetto. Rabiot himself claimed some of the players “didn’t understand” Pirlo’s plans.

Adrien Rabiot, Cristiano Ronaldo, Juve

Allegri returned last year but his pragmatic game plan has drawn criticism over the past 12 months and Rabiot has failed to improve sentiment despite playing 32 league games last season. With Paul Pogba, Manuel Locatelli and Denis Zakaria all signed this summer and with just one year left from Rabiot’s contract, Juve are now ready to sell.

Why does Ten Hag want to sign Rabiot?

Given the baggage that comes with Rabiot – his mother’s intransigence, his tendency to be indisciplined and a sense of unfulfilled promises – it seems strange that Ten Hag would abandon long-term transfer planning just to add another body to his desperately lightweight midfield.

But Rabiot remains an excellent footballer. He’s strong, fighting, but with a possession elegance that United simply don’t have among the current options in central midfield. He is also versatile, having played as part of a deep circle, on the left side of a central trio and even as an emergency left winger for France, most recently at Euro 2020. His injury record is also commendable: 2018 -19 when he was practical suspended half the season was the only one of the last nine seasons in which he has played fewer than 21 league games.

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If Ten Hag can keep Rabiot fully operational, the 27-year-old could prove a hugely useful upgrade to United’s midfield options, regardless of whether they manage to get De Jong through the door.

Rabiot Anguissa Napoli Juventus Serie A

Adrien Rabiot Contract, fee and salary

According to The Manchester Evening News, United have agreed an initial fee of £15m ($18m) for Rabiot with Juventus, which could rise to as much as £20m ($24m).

Personal terms must now be agreed with the player and his mother. He is reportedly making around €7m a year with Juve, which translates to around £113,000 ($137,000) a week, and United will likely have to offer an improvement on those terms.

Adrien Rabiot career stats, age, key details

  • Height: 1.88 m
  • Age: 27
  • Main Position: Center Midfield
  • Nationality: French
  • Youth teams: Creteil, Alfortville, Manchester City, Pau, Pole Espoirs, Paris Saint-Germain
  • Previous clubs: Toulouse (loan), Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus
  • Club appearances: 369 (Paris Saint-Germain 227, Juventus 129, Toulouse 13)
  • Club goals: 31 (Paris Saint-Germain 24, Juventus 6, Toulouse 1)
  • International appearances: 29
  • International goals: 2

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Adrien Rabiot’s FIFA Ultimate Team card

Rabiot’s stats on FIFA 22 are well rounded for a midfielder, with dribbling being a particular asset. He also has good numbers when it comes to stamina and both short and long passes.

Key FIFA Ultimate Team card stats

  • Pace: 76
  • Shooting: 74
  • Pass: 76
  • Dribble: 80
  • Defense: 76
  • Physical: 79

What shirt number will Adrien Rabiot wear at Man United?

Rabiot wears number 25 at Juventus, the same number he had for most of his time at PSG (he was briefly number 6, number 7, number 8 and number 31 at Parc des Princes). He wore the No. 6 shirt at Toulouse while on loan.

United’s number 25 is Jadon Sancho so that number is off limits at the moment. However, should Cristiano Ronaldo grant his wish and leave Old Trafford, Sancho could take over the famous No 7 shirt and release Rabiot’s preferred option.

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