Has Barcelona made a mistake on Adrien Rabiot?
Background image: DJ Lucifer, CC BY 2.0
Adrien Rabiot has become somewhat of a controversial figure following recent events involving the player. The 23-year-old has had squabbles with both his club and national team within the last year.
It seemed unthinkable that the midfielder would ask for his name to be withdrawn from a reserve list to represent their country at the World Cup. That's especially so - given the fact that making it to the tournament or even being considered good enough to be on the waiting list for a country endowed with so much talent as France is an honour in itself. Most players will be happy with that.
Not Adrien Rabiot. And he would not take things in his stride and hope for the best in future either. The Frenchman made his displeasure with the situation clear by asking for his name to withdrawn from the list altogether. National team manager Didier Deschamps was baffled and came just short of closing the door on the young midfielder's future with Les Bleus.
Yet, that may very well be the case as he has not invited the player to the team since the incident. Rabiot, on his part, has shown no remorse for his action or even considered offering an apology to remedy the situation and get himself back into the reckoning. Instead, he has gone on to cause even more controversy. A standoff with Paris Saint-Germain over his refusal to commit his long-term future to the club made all the headlines for the wrong reasons.
But Rabiot has been resolute in his stance. It's said that there is a thin line between genius and stupidity. Time will surely tell if the former Manchester City youth player is gradually setting himself up for a steep fall from grace. Or he is charting a course for other players that understand their worth and will not take the short end of the stick to follow?
Given the player's attitude, some may have felt it would be difficult for him to move to a top club. This is because most of these elite sides will not tolerate players challenging their authority or becoming a destabilising force in the dressing room. So it came as a surprise to some to learn that the player now has an agreement with FC Barcelona to move to the Camp Nou in the summer.
The Spanish giants are not short of players in the middle of the park, but with midfield powerhouse Sergio Busquets approaching the final stages of his career, there is a need for reinforcements. Rabiot has been an important player at Paris Saint-Germain, which accounts for why the Ligue 1 champions sought to keep him in the French capital.
The 23-year-old can play both in central and defensive midfield and comes loaded with experience in different competitions. That will make him a valuable addition to the squad as he can partner Busquets and even replace him in defensive midfield moving forward.
However, things could be tricky for the club. Ernesto Valverde has been battling with the excesses of another young Frenchman Ousmane Dembele. The former Borussia Dortmund winger has been falling foul of club rules as he has struggled to report for training and meetings far too frequently. His focus and concentration has, therefore, been questioned to the extent that there have been numerous speculations concerning his future.
With such an attitude, only consistent delivery on the pitch has kept him from moving elsewhere. Adding Rabiot (who comes with his own baggage) to the mix could present even more problems to deal with. In fact, poorly managed, this can cause problems for the whole group and destabilise the team. That means it's possible Barcelona has actually added more of a problem than a solution to the team.
However, coming to Barcelona could be the solution the player desperately needs. He could just be lacking the right management that the Spanish champions could provide. If Valverde and any manager after him can find a way to get the best from the young man, he could be a real gem for the club in the years to come.