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Adrien Rabiot – the young man caught up in the business of football

The following is a translation of an article by French outlet Mediacités as part of the Football Leaks series.

Get French Football News takes no responsibility for the authenticity of the content.

It only took 4 months for the trouble to begin. Rabiot signed his first professional contract with PSG on 2nd July 2012, but by 21st November, the 17-year-old central midfielder had his first run in with the club hierarchy. The player at the time was represented by his mother, Véronique, and assisted by Parisian lawyer Christophe Bertrand. The duo were angry that the club let a big media outlet do a profile on the teen without their go ahead.

In December, famous sports lawyer Didier Poulmaire known for looking after the interests of Laure Manaudou and Yoann Gourcuff, joined the player’s entourage.

The next point of conflict came relating to PSG’s Qatar Winter Tour, in which Véronique demanded that the club allow her to accompany her underage son on the trip. Other players were allowed to bring their wives and their children and Véronique wanted young Adrien to be accompanied by his brother and his mother.

The club eventually agreed to allow Véronique to come and participate in the New Years Eve celebrations in Doha, but that was the only event over the course of the trip that she was to be authorised access to and on the condition that she made her way there out of her own pocket.

The club’s refusal to pay for Véronique’s flights between Paris and Doha would have grave consequences for the Rabiot – PSG relationship. The agent and mother wrote an inflammatory letter to Jean-Claude Blanc, Director General at the club, at Christmas time. The aim of the letter? A “transfer request”. It indicated that her son was not going to travel to Qatar after all and demanded that the teen be placed on the transfer list for the January transfer window.

J-C Blanc responded to the letter only on the 17th January 2013:

“The stupefying terms of your letter received on 24th December require us to respond in the same way. We can only take action for the latest decisions concerning your son, Adrien, deploring them. They hurt the interests of Adrien, but also the interests of our club, who are, we should remember, his employer. In that vein, after he did not appear on the Tour that the club organised in Doha, between 28th December 2012 and 4th January 2013, without authorisation, and without a motive or justification for his absence, Adrien has broken with his contractual obligations, which exposes him to a disciplinary sanction on behalf of his employer.”

“In any case, the player will not be paid for these days of unjustified absences. His absence from the Tour prejudices against his sporting condition because it means that he will be behind in terms of physical preparation following the mid-season break in comparison with the rest of the 1st team. Also, you ask us to place Adrien “on the transfer list for the January transfer window,” by invoking motives for doing so that are totally unfounded. Do we need to remind you that the transfer of a player, who is a minor, does not fall as a unilateral decision of him or his legal representative?”

Things did not ameliorate, when on 18th January 2013, Rabiot insulted another player in the Coupe Gambardella and was sent off. On top of that, the player wanted to play more. The situation became untenable. Bordeaux made a loan offer for the Frenchman, but Rabiot ended up going to Toulouse on loan until the end of the campaign.

The loan was a measure to act as a cool down period for all parties, but Rabiot’s time in the Garonne did not get off to a good start: Véronique demanded access to all her son’s training sessions, Toulouse manager Alain Casanova refused: “I did not want him to feel uncomfortable in front of his team-mates by seeing his mother on the side of the pitch,” he told RMC: “but from that moment onwards, we had no problems.”

Whilst Rabiot was largely enjoying his loan spell at Toulouse, the battle between his mother and PSG continued. Véronique wrote to then club Sporting Director Leonardo to fight the “unjustified” sanctions placed upon her son. She criticised the club policy of limiting a mother’s access to her son across the club, especially for a footballer who was a minor, underlining that “the player Lucas Moura appeared on Doha with his mother by his side on many occasions,” denouncing “double-standards”.

Leonardo agreed to remove sanctions in an attempt to pacify the situation, but maintained that the player would not receive a salary for the days of unjustified absence during the Doha tour.

Rabiot shone for Toulouse, he said after a match in March against Brest in which he scored his 1st Ligue 1 game: “I hope that Carlo Ancelotti will have appreciated it.”

His mother Véronique had her focus elsewhere – in May, Stéphane Lorenzi, a secretary at AS Monaco, informs her Vice President Vadim Vasilyev: she had been contacted by the mother of the player, who wanted to offer her son to the Principality club.

Meanwhile, the addition of characters to the player’s entourage continued – in July 2013, Arnaud Péricard, a prestigious lawyer, joined. Toulouse wanted to keep Rabiot on loan, but PSG wanted to bring the player back, whose contract was due to expire in June 2015. The club offered Rabiot a contract extension, with a salary worth €80,000 gross per month for 2013/14, going up to €120,000 gross per month for 2017/18.

A proposition that Véronique viewed as insufficient, perhaps understandably. Her counter proposal was €150k a month net in 2013/14, going up to at least €250k a month net by 1st July 2014. Negotiations broke off.

In August 2014, Jorge Mendes was mandated by Véronique to find her son a new club.   The outcome of this development was a nearly-move to AS Roma – at the end of the window in the very beginning of September, AS Roma and PSG had an agreement worth €11m for Rabiot’s transfer. The problem? At the necessary moment to close the deal, Véronique was not contactable. She had gone on holiday. Rabiot’s move to Rome collapsed.

On the 17th September, Claudio Fenucci, AS Roma’s Director General called Jean-Claude Blanc to explain to him why negotiations broke down. Blanc then explained to PSG President Al Khelaifi: “He told me that Rabiot’s mother is very difficult to contact, she barely ever responds to calls… AS Roma are still interested in Rabiot and would restart negotiations if the mother and his representatives assume reasonable behaviour.”

The player’s entourage wanted to allow Rabiot’s contract to run and expire in the summer of 2015 (sound familiar?) so that he could join a club of his choosing for free in June 2015 with a big signing-on fee to boot. PSG refused to allow this to happen, and put pressure on the Rabiot clan. At the age of 19, Adrien was no longer gracing Ligue 1’s pitches: PSG had banished him.

The club’s strategy worked and forced the Rabiot clan to come back to the table – at the end of October 2014, even though nobody could believe it, Adrien Rabiot signed a new contract with PSG.

The player would earn €237,500 gross per month from 1st October 2014 to 30th June 2015, then his salary would rise season by season up to €285,000 gross for 2018/19. Included in the deal were “politeness” and “exemplary behaviour” clauses worth €12,500 per month in the first season up to €15,000 in 2018/19. On top of a signing fee worth €4m.

The contract even confirmed an agreement between both parties that would see Rabiot leave the club on loan for the second half of the 2014/15 campaign, the reason for this was so that the player could escape the wrath of the PSG fans and step out of the firing line for several months.

On 8th January 2015, Adrien Rabiot asks, through intermediary and his new advisor John Flanigan, to be loaned to English club Tottenham Hotspur. Six days later, a new development emerged: Flanigan declared that he was no longer in charge of dealing with Rabiot’s interests. A new advisor came into the fray: Pierre Palomba.

PSG offered the player to Arsenal and Southampton, but neither were interested by a loan. Véronique came back at the end of January with an offer from Sevilla. But PSG, despite their agreement to allow Rabiot to find a club to join on loan to finish the season, now decided that they wanted to keep the midfielder, who was back in the 1st team and producing great performances.

Jean-Claude Blanc wrote to the player: “You have indicated that you would accept a loan to Spanish club Sevilla, a solution that does not, for us at this stage, give us enough guarantees regarding the evolution of your footballing potential… We want to reassure you that our desire is for you to continue with the club in this present season.” 

On the 21st February, Adrien Rabiot scored twice against Toulouse, definitively patching up his relationship with PSG’s fans.

Fast forward to December 2018, and the club wanted to extend Rabiot’s contract again, but the demands of his clan seemed to high for PSG: they wanted €10m a year. PSG decided to no longer play Rabiot and fans got on his back again.

The Rabiot case demonstrates the “ultimate pervasion” of the football business, where footballers are excluded when they refuse to sign a new contract. A devastating 12 month period for the Frenchman, who missed out on the World Cup winning squad, and at the beginning of 2019, lost both his father and his grand-father. Incidents that saw Rabiot decide not to go on this January’s Qatar Winter Tour, leading the club to sanction him… The story repeats itself again.


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