It’s been eight years, but Paris Saint-Germain have finally had enough. Adrien Rabiot will depart the capital side in the summer, with the Ligue 1 champions finally drawing to the conclusion that the 23-year-old midfielder is simply more hassle than he is worth.
They are not the first to reach such a conclusion, with several suitors to international midfielder having recoiled in the face of the demands of his agent and mother, Veronique, while France boss Didier Deschamps was content to leave the haughty player out of his squad that won the World Cup in Russia.
It was not a decision that Deschamps took lightly. On ability, Rabiot would have been in the squad, but in terms of his attitude, he was considered to be toxic to the balance of the party – one of the key reasons why Les Bleus emerged triumphant.
PSG, meanwhile, did their best to persevere. Rabiot similarly threatened to leave to Roma in 2014 only for an eleventh-hour U-turn to be completed.
When he re-signed on that occasion, it was hailed by president Nasser Al-Khelaifi as “one of the most important signatures for the future of the club” and yet in the face of his most recent demands they are content to allow him to leave.
“It’s a decision of the club that Adrien is not with the team,” head coach Thomas Tuchel told Goal. “I understand and respect this decision, now we’re going to wait.
“I’ve said a lot of times I love the player, but the situation has been going on for a long time, that’s how it is … The club made this decision and I have to respect it.”
Often, allowing academy products to depart in such a fashion would spark uproar from supporters, but instead there is an indifference to the forthcoming departure.
If Rabiot’s contract demands were astronomical – he reportedly wanted paid in a similar bracket to Kylian Mbappe – his on-field performance has not warranted such rewards.
He has made clear in the past that he sees himself as an attacking midfielder and not a box-to-box dogsbody or a disciplined anchoring player in front of the defence, which are roles that successive coaches have seen him better fit to play.
If it is Neymar that comes under the international microscope for lacking work-rate, Rabiot is the player who comes under greater scrutiny from fans of the Parisian side, who believe that he does not provide the industry he is capable of.
Indeed, there is a sense that over the last couple of years he has been given a free ride due to his status as an academy product.
Speaking in 2015, former PSG defender Pierre Dreossi said: “Rabiot is precious. For any club of a very high level, it is important to have local players to carry the club’s identity and values.”
Against Liverpool at Anfield in the Champions League, things started come unravelled. While Neymar and Mbappe were again the ones criticised in the world media for a supposed lack of industry, Rabiot’s performance in the midfield was wretched.
It was a game in which he had the chance to prove himself worthy of the demands he had made to the board but instead he fell dramatically short.
He played just 12 minutes of PSG’s final three Champions League group-stage matches.
Although there has been interest from the Premier League, most notably Liverpool and Arsenal, the club where he would best appear suited to playing, there have been overtures from Juventus, who may have Financial Fair Play issues to juggle after signing Cristiano Ronaldo last summer.
It is, however, Barcelona who are leading the way for Rabiot’s signature. Indeed, in France it is widely reported that a deal has been agreed and that it is simply a matter of timing when he moves to Camp Nou.
The Blaugrana will certainly provide a stage that Rabiot feels befits his talents, although he will have to curb his individualist nature if he is to survive at a club where there is a tradition of the team coming before everything else.
His attitude has already cost him the opportunity to be a World Cup winner and it would be a waste of undoubted talent if he was to squander another opportunity in pursuit of a golden handshake.