The last two players to join Manchester United from Juventus found their Old Trafford tenures surrounded in controversy, so Adrien Rabiot could fit right in.
Rabiot, 27, is set to follow two of his former teammates, Cristiano Ronaldo and Paul Pogba, in swapping the Old Lady for the Red Devils.
As was the case with both players before him, Rabiot is also sealing a long-awaited return to Manchester having already played for the city’s other major club.
The midfielder had a six month stint in Man City’s academy as a youngster in 2008 and came close to a permanent move.
Rabiot was spotted by Etihad scouts when he was 13-years-old while playing in the French national academy at Clairefontaine – which has produced Thierry Henry and Kylian Mbappe.
“During the last entry course at Clairefontaine, Manchester City recruiters were present,” Rabiot explained in 2020. “They told my mum they were interested in my profile. We made the decision to go to England.
“Everything was going well, but after six months, the club did not respect certain agreements, so my mother said ‘Stop’ and we went home.”
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Rabiot’s mother’s early intervention in his football career was a sign of things to come.
Veronique assumed the role of her son’s agent after his dad Michel Provost suffered a stroke that left him with locked-in syndrome.
“Ever since his accident, I’ve been fighting for him on the pitch,” Rabiot told Le Parisien.
During her time representing Rabiot, Veronique has clashed with sporting directors and demanded to watch training sessions.
She has also been the downfall behind failed moves to Roma (over her desire to meet manager Rudi Garcia) and Tottenham (wage demands).
Roma’s former sporting director Walter Sabatini claimed: “If you give your mother a face-to-face with the coach in a moment you will find her in the locker room.”
And when the 6 ft 2 in Rabiot was dropped to Paris Saint-Germain’s reserves in a row over wages, Veronique went public with her anger.
She said: “My son is a hostage of the club, he will soon live in prison on bread and water.”
But Rabiot must also shoulder a lot of the responsibility himself, having regularly been criticised for his attitude throughout his career.
He made headlines around the world when he withdrew from France’s standby list for the 2018 World Cup.
Rabiot emailed coach Didier Deschamps saying he would not ‘be able to follow the training programme’ and instead watched from home as his teammates claimed glory in Russia.
After returning to PSG, he was dropped by then manager Thomas Tuchel alongside Mbappe for a game that October for reporting late to a team meeting.
Months later, Rabiot was handed a two-week ban for being pictured at a nightclub hours after United knocked PSG out of the Champions League.
“I find unacceptable the attitude and lack of professionalism of a player like Adrien Rabiot towards the club, his team-mates and his supporters,” PSG’s sporting director, Antero Henrique, said at the time.
Rabiot managed to play his way back into the French set-up for Euro 2020 having featured in the defeat on penalties to Switzerland following a 3-3 draw.
Yet it was again his mother who made the headlines after cameras captured her directing a comment at Kylian Mbappe’s dad, Wilfried, following the forward’s decisive miss in the shoot-out.
According to The Athletic, Veronique shouted: “It is embarrassing how he struck that, for a player of his level. He hit it too lightly. I hope you are going to scold him.”
The report also claimed Veronique had already clashed with members of Paul Pogba’s family during the Switzerland loss.
Despite all this, there is no doubting Rabiot’s talent – having made 227 appearances for PSG before joining Juventus three years ago.
He is also a serial winner, adding Serie A and the Coppa Italia to the eighteen major honours, including five Ligue 1 titles, he won in Paris.
Rabiot has earned praise from the likes of Unai Emery and Barcelona boss Xavi but it was Andrea Pirlo that offered the most gleaming tribute.
Pirlo told Sky Sport Italia in 2020: “He is a complete player, I have rarely seen someone so strong both physically and technically.
“He doesn’t even know the potential for improvement he can have, and we work on the mental side of things to make him understand that he is a champion. He is improving game after game.”
Last year at Juve, Rabiot covered the second-most ground per 90 which suggests he could be a good fit a Premier League side overly reliant on the industrialism of Fred and Scott McTominay – with neither midfielder possessing Rabiot’s eye for a pass.
His physical output combined with his prior understanding with Ronaldo might tell us that Erik ten Hag does indeed have a plan to get the best out of one of football’s greatest enigma’s. Mum’s the word…
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