Adrien Rabiot might be only 24 years old, but it really seems that he has been around for a while. Standing at 188cm, the Frenchman possesses a colossus-like physique, which allowed him to start his professional career very early.
Prior to his move to Turin, Rabiot spent seven years at Paris Saint-Germain and registered 227 appearances for the French giants. The powerful midfielder made his senior debut for the club under Carlo Ancelotti in 2012 and has also represented his country at all levels starting from the U16’s.
What makes Rabiot special is the technical ability and quality in the defensive phase of the game, which combined with his pure physical prowess make him a truly dominant presence in the middle of the pitch. This makes him the perfect fit for Juventus, as none of the current midfielders at Maurizio Sarri’s disposal offers such a complete package.
Miralem Pjanic is undoubtedly Juventus’ best and most technically gifted midfielder, but his inability to protect the defence in the regista role has hurt the Bianconeri on more than one occasion. Blaise Matuidi was another pillar for Max Allegri’s team last year, but despite his impressive engine and dedication, the Frenchman doesn’t offer much with the ball at his feet.
Rodrigo Bentancur is too young and hasn’t proved himself yet, while Aaron Ramsey should help Juve’s struggles in that area, especially with his precisely timed runs in the attacking third and exquisite eye for a pass or goal. However, there is no doubt that the Welshman is a defensive liability, which means that combining him and Pjanic would leave the team dangerously unbalanced.
This means that Emre Can’s qualities are the closest to those of Rabiot, but the truth is the German international is nowhere near his new teammate in terms of consistency. While he can do many things, he rarely does them good enough simultaneously.
Despite being frozen out by the French champions since December 2018, Rabiot featured 22 times for the team in the first half of the season. He also averaged the staggering 2.8 aerial duels won in his five Champions League appearances, as well as 2.3 successful tackles in all competitions.
Rabiot’s stats contrast with Thomas Tuchel’s explanation for the exclusion of the 24-year-old from the team, as according to the tactician, Rabiot was excluded for poor performances. However, Rabiot was dropped from the squad during the peak of an Icardi-like contract renewal negotiations, so Tuchel’s words should be taken with a huge pinch of salt.
The midfielder’s high economic demands, as well as his hot-headed character lead to leaking of information regarding his contract renewal in the media, which obviously lead to the club’s decision to freeze him out.
In all honesty, Rabiot’s handling of the situation is not surprising at all, as just a few months earlier he sparked another huge controversy publicly by refusing to be part of Didier Deschamps’ standby list for the World Cup last year.
"I suspected the impact of my decision, but I regret to be caricatured as a young immature player unable to measure the scope of his actions." That’s what Rabiot said after announcing his World Cup snub and the situation at his club in the following months showcased the heated side of his character.
However, if there is a club that can get the best out of a player like Rabiot, it has to be Juventus. Since the Bianconeri started their domestic dominance eight years ago, they had many complicated characters in their squad, but almost always managed to get the best out of them.
Carlos Tevez, Arturo Vidal, Paul Pogba, Mario Mandzukic, Leonardo Bonucci and many others played arguably their best football in the famous black and white jersey and if Conte was getting the majority of the credit during his era, Max Allegri showed that he’s equally capable of doing the same thing.
While both Conte and Allegri should be praised for the bigger part of their man-management in Turin, it’s always been clear that the strength of Juventus comes from the club itself. Beppe Marotta also left, but you would be dead wrong to think that Pavel Nedved, Fabio Paratici and Andrea Agnelli haven’t considered Rabiot’s hot-headed nature when signing him.
Therefore, regardless of his risky character, the €7m salary and the €10m agent commission fee, there is little doubt that Rabiot’s transfer to Juventus is a real bargain for the champions.
Much more composed and well-rounded than Emre Can, Adrien Rabiot could prove to be the big figure in midfield that Sarri’s Juventus so sorely needs.