Christopher Nkunku

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PSG benches Rabiot for refusing another contract offer

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Paris Saint-Germain has had its fair share of troubles with midfielder Adrian Rabiot, and those appear to have reached a climax on Monday.

PSG sporting director Antero Henrique told Yahoo Sports France that Rabiot has been “infinitely benched” unless he signs a contract extension by the end of the season. Rabiot’s contract expires this coming summer, and he reportedly has turned down multiple contract offers from PSG.

“The player informed me that he will not be signing a new contract and that he wants to leave the club as a free agent at the end of the season [also the end of his contract],” Henrique said. “For the player, the consequences are clear — he is indefinitely benched.”

Rabiot has been the subject of several off-field stories in the past year or two, including his refusal to accept a France national team call-up this summer for the 2018 World Cup, not accepting a reserve roster role.In addition, Rabiot’s mother Veronique – who also serves as his agent – has been a thorn in PSG’s side for years. Veronique was highly critical of PSG’s use of her then-19-year-old son in 2014, saying, “He needs to play regularly in high-level matches. Since February he has only started five times in the league and once in the Champions League.  He cannot afford to spend a season on the bench. At his age, if you do not progress, you regress. His goal is to join the France team at Euro 2016. Staying at PSG seems very difficult.”

Even as far back as 2013, Veronique was public about her pursuit of playing time for her son, forcing the club to loan him out to fellow French side Toulouse. “If the supporters were parents, they would understand,” she told the media.

Now, Veronique finally appears to be seeing Adrien’s way out of Parc des Princes, and it has caught Henrique off guard. “A few months ago, there were positive exchanges with his representative [Veronique] with a view to him staying with the club and signing a new deal,” Henrique said. “We also accepted all of his conditions regarding things related to what happens on the pitch. We discussed these specifics to ensure that he would stay with us for many years. Unfortunately, since then, negotiations have completely stopped.”

One week ago, ESPN reported that PSG manager Thomas Tuchel had already informed Rabiot he would not be in the club’s plans moving forward this season unless he signed a new contract, and that the club was to make one final push for his signature. That same article reports that PSG chairman and CEO Nasser Al-Khelaifi “maintains good relations” with Rabiot, that he “remains convinced of his value,” and was set to take over negotiations. With the new reports on Monday, it seems even Al-Khelaifi was unable to convince Rabiot to stay.

At PSG, Rabiot has relatively little competition for playing time in midfield, with only Marco Verratti plus youngsters Christopher Nkunku and Antoine Bernede who play his position. 21-year-old Nkunku has been the biggest benefactor of Rabiot’s absence, seeing 13 Ligue 1 appearances this season including five starts. PSG has also been heavily linked to Ajax youngster Frenkie de Jong, partly due to Rabiot’s phasing out.

Rabiot has earned 14 Ligue 1 appearances this season, including 12 starts and nine full-90 performances, but he was a late substitute in each of PSG’s last two Champions League matches.