It appears that France midfielder Adrien Rabiot has had to review his self-worth in recent weeks. Last summer, with his contract with Paris St. Germain winding down, he decided to play hardball with his current employers, refusing to sign and extension and instead attempting to orchestrate a transfer on his own terms, with top European sides Barcelona and Real Madrid linked.
However, now that his contract has expired and there has been no further interest in him, it appears the player and his management have had a lowering of expectations and are now reportedly speaking with Premier League sides Manchester United and Everton.
Breaking | Adrien Rabiot’s entourage in active discussions with Manchester United & Everton. (TF1)— Get French Football News (@GFFN) June 2, 2019
Rabiot is an excellent centrally, calm and composed on the ball and operates best as a deep-lying midfielder. His passing vision and range has been widely commended, and statistically is better than most central midfielders in the Premier League, including Fernandinho, David Silva, Kevin De Bruyne, Jordan Henderson, Jorginho, N’Golo Kante and Paul Pogba among others.
The Frenchman appears to have specially better accuracy in the longer range passes, which would be especially beneficial for Richarlison, making his deep runs from the right. Rabiot’s lateral passing strength has enabled PSG to incorporate their fullbacks, which is a key component for Marco Silva’s gameplan as well - the Blues have been at their best when Lucas Digne and Seamus Coleman have been exceptional.
Should Marcel Brands pull off a coup by bringing the free agent to Goodison Park, it might even make the Blues’ pursuit of Andre Gomes on a permanent deal from Barcelona moot as Rabiot is easily an upgrade over the Portuguese midfielder.
Where he would fit in at the Blues is a more interesting question however, especially if they manage to hold on to Idrissa Gueye once again during this summer transfer window. Rabiot is at his best at the base of a three-man midfield, but with Gueye anchoring the Toffees from there, it would free the 24-year-old to roam further forward, interchanging passes with Gylfi Sigurdsson and looking to release the mobile Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison further up the pitch.
Rabiot has never been known as a scorer or creator of goals, his true strength lies in his press-proof calmness on the ball in the middle of the park - a talent Everton currently don’t have in midfield and leads to the Blues turning the ball over more often than not against teams that press ferociously.
Here’s Rabiot’s radar from the last full season he played for PSG, when he was only 23. Due to his contract impasse with the French champions, he has not played first team football since about Christmas 2018.
While Silva has hit upon a pretty effective gameplan on how to handle the top six sides, it’s when playing against the smaller teams that park the bus where Everton have struggled. Rabiot’s vision and creativity is absolutely world-class here, and gives the Blues an elite passing option that will help them unlock packed defences where they haven’t been able to in the past.
United lost Ander Herrera at the end of 2018-19 season as well and are well-placed to offer that spot and higher wages to Rabiot, as well as Europa League football. The Toffees meanwhile are out of Europe, and are unlikely to come close to giving him whatever wages he’d command at Old Trafford. Then there’s the ‘masters of signing free agents’ Juventus still lurking about, so while it’d be a truly impressive feat if Brands were to secure the services of this smooth operator, it’s quite unlikely at this point.
PS - Here are the stats for Frenkie de Jong, the young Ajax Amsterdam star who will be moving to Barcelona, likely to take the position Rabiot had been jockeying for, compared to the Frenchman himself.