Warren Zaïre-Emery at 18: The future of France and PSG’s midfield

Today as Warren Zaïre-Emery celebrates his 18th birthday he has already become an indispensable figure in the Paris Saint-Germain midfield and a capped international for a France side widely thought to be one of the best national teams in the world. 

The future looks immeasurably bright for a player who has had a meteoric rise since becoming the youngest player to play for PSG when he made his debut last season at 16 years and 151 days old. 

Last season Zaïre-Emery was bedded into the team slowly under Christophe Galtier and given minutes at the end of games to slowly adjust to life in a team full of seasoned professionals. Only near the end of the season was he given his first start as the league title was all but confirmed. 

Galtier left at the end of the campaign and was replaced by Luis Enrique, and it is under his new manager that Zaïre-Emery has gone from promising performances to one of the most assured and intelligent players on the pitch, and a player who has earned the complete trust of his teammates and his coach. 

Maturity is often the word used to describe Zaïre-Emery, as it is perhaps the best way to capture a playing style that suggests an intense depth of experience when this has not yet been earned by time or appearances. 

Zaïre-Emery becomes the third youngest French international 

On the 9th of November 2023, Zaïre-Emery was selected for the France squad to face Gibraltar and Greece. His call-up to the squad was met with intense celebration throughout PSG with his teammates bursting into his hotel room to surround the young star in wild delight, and at the centre of all that attention was a figure, modest and calm. 

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It’s an approach he has used to meet every single achievement that he has earned in his short professional career, and has become characteristic of his time in the PSG shirt. Against Gibraltar, Zaïre-Emery earned what will likely be the first of many caps for France becoming the third youngest player in French history, as Les Bleus performed a 14-0 demolition on the European minnows. 

His France debut earned him a goal, but also what looked like his first major setback as he picked up what at first glance appeared to be a significant injury after a heavy tackle was inflicted on the midfielder. He was quickly ruled out for the rest of 2023 but made a rapid recovery as he made his return on the 10th of December. 

In time for the crucial last group game in the Champions League for PSG where the midfielder rescued their campaign by scoring the leveller against Borussia Dortmund (1-1), a goal that was enough to secure progression to the knockout rounds of the competition. 

Paris Saint-Germain’s Post-Mbappé future

As the news broke that Kylian Mbappé (25) had decided once and for all to leave PSG anxiety took over the club. The star had led them for the past seven seasons and would be leaving at the end of the season on a free transfer. There was a question over what the future of the club would look like post-Mbappé. 

The answer was to secure the future of Zaïre-Emery. In the month that has passed the club have been working tirelessly to extend their midfielder’s contract and make him one of the cornerstones of their Mbappé-less world. Already at this age, he has surpassed the amount of appearances that Wayne Rooney, Lionel Messi (36), and Mbappé had. 

PSG believe him not only to be the key to their future but also to their present. A player at 18 that has won the trust of a team that has not always put its faith in its academy. And a player whose future looks certain to be historic. 

GFFN | Nick Hartland

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