Rabiot: 'Win back the Ligue 1 title'
Home-grown Paris Saint-Germain prodigy Adrien Rabiot talks Neymar Jr, his role in coach Unai Emery's midfield, the need for absolute focus and the club's Ligue 1 Conforama and Champions League dreams.
Rabiot, 22, has been part of PSG's squad for five seasons already, playing more than 100 top-flight games. Until recently, the dynamic midfielder was used as back-up, but this season his status has changed: he is now very much a first choice, an integral member of Paris' star-studded line-up, which, of course, includes a certain Neymar.
"Obviously we're delighted with Neymar's transfer. He's a world-class player and he brings an extra something to the team. He's going to help us reach our objectives on the pitch," the France midfielder told The Ligue 1 Show on beIN SPORTS. "We already have a big Brazilian community here. I think that will help him settle quickly. As a squad, we all get along really well so hopefully he'll fit right in. He's young and sees things the same way as us. It's a good thing."
After scoring four goals and providing four assists last season, the young France international is working closely with coach Unai Emery to keep improving.
"He wants me to do more, to score more and create more goals. He says I have the potential so that's a good thing. He also pushes me hard and I think that was the difference in the Trophée des Champions against Monaco," explained the gifted youngster, who scored as Paris prevailed 2-1 in the season curtain-raiser. "When someone pushes you like that, keeps repeating the same thing over and over, it really sinks in. But it's also a lot of hard work."
Rabiot has expressed his desire to play as a box-to-box midfielder - even though he has everything it takes to play a more defensive role - and Emery has listened, urging him towards a greater attacking contribution.
"He wants me to score at least ten goals, and more assists as well," he continued. "Everyone in midfield should be able to get forward and score and provide assists; that's important in midfield."
Rabiot already has two goals this term, helping PSG enjoy a perfect start. But he knows there's no room for complacency - even against the smaller sides - and hopes the team will have learned their lesson from last season.
"We all know what can happen in football. The smallest teams can upset the big ones. All it takes is just a moment's loss of concentration against a team giving it everything and that can cost you the game," Rabiot explained. "We know what to expect against smaller teams. We were caught out a few times last season. We need to learn from that and make sure we don't slip up."
With nine points from three matches, table-topping Paris Saint-Germain are off to a great start and Rabiot is hoping that his side can stay in pole position in their bid to reclaim the Ligue 1 Conforama crown.
"We know we have to make the best possible start to the season. It's better to be leading from the front - it means you can play with confidence instead of the pressure of chasing the others. The championship is a marathon over 38 matches. It's consistency that counts. Obviously we're in it to win back the Ligue 1 title."
'Learn from what happened that night'
Rabiot also have one eye on the Champions League - and is desperate to put the disappointment of last season behind him.
"Last season we let something very, very special slip from our grasp. But that's in the past now," he said of the humiliating 6-1 round-of-16 second-leg loss to Barcelona that saw Paris Saint-Germain crash out of the Champions League after hammering the Catalonians 4-0 at the Parc des Princes. "We have to learn from what happened that night to not let it happen again. It's a new season now and we're ready. The squad has been bolstered and we're all happy to be here. We can't wait to start the Champions League. It's really a very important objective for us - we all want it: the club, the supporters and of course us, the players."
Paris Saint-Germain's next clash comes on Friday night as they do battle with another side who have taken all nine points on offer so far - AS Saint-Etienne.