Whenever Adrien Rabiot wakes up and sees his surname trending, one can only imagine his heart drops a little bit, and a French expletive along the lines of ‘merde’ or ‘putain’ chillingly escapes his lips.
Has he become the victim of a social media pile-on? Is he being linked with a move to the Middle East? Or is it… No. It can’t be. Oh good god, it is. It’s not him who’s trending – it’s his mother.
Veronique Rabiot has carved out a career as one of football’s most ruthless agents, sitting at the negotiating table with an iron fist. She started managing her son’s football career in 2007, back when Adrien was in his teens.
Sounds normal, right? A player’s family looking after their career, helping them to make the right decisions? Yeah, not in the Rabiot family. Veronique is the head of the table and boy do we know it.
More akin to a WWE valet in the 1990s, Veronique is a menace and will do anything to elevate her son’s stock. Stylin’, profilin’, trash talking, hating, you name it, she’ll do it.
As a result, Rabiot’s profile has raised considerably over the years – perhaps for the wrong reasons. Having plied his trade at Manchester City at youth level, he’s spent the bulk of his senior career with Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus, while remaining a regular for the France national team.
She deserves some serious credit for that. As an agent, Veronique has been key in keeping Rabiot in top sides The Frenchman left PSG on a free transfer in 2019 and headed straight to Turin, where he no doubt pocketed a healthy signing bonus by leaving for nothing.
It’s amazing that he managed to stay put in Paris until 2019, though, carving out a nine-year stint with the club.
Signing in 2010, Veronique’s first outburst came just two years into his time at PSG, pulling a teenage Rabiot from a tour with the club, and requesting a transfer because she wasn’t allowed to attend.
A loan spell to Toulouse would follow, where Rabiot’s mum again caused a stir due to her unusual request to coach Alain Casanova, asking to be allowed to attend every single first-team training session.
Imagine that. Lads would’ve torn him a new one. Poor Adrien.
Having left City after just six months in 2008 because his mum said so, it was clear a pattern was emerging. Veronique Rabiot the agent was dying as quickly as she’d burst onto the scene; Veronique Rabiot the football pantomime villain was being birthed in front of us.
A Mr McMahon arc of her own, Veronique would boot off with PSG again in 2014, confronting then-manager Laurent Blanc in a car park after a match about the role her son was playing in his team. Seriously.
Her ascent up the card as one of sport’s great villains would continue, with more incidents rearing their head throughout the 2010s. Talks with countless clubs around Europe when her son’s contracts were expiring, laying out their demands and shutting people off when the deal wasn’t right.
She took it international in 2018, though, when she insisted her son withdrew from France’s 2018 World Cup standby list after not making Didier Deschamps’ final squad for Russia, where they would be crowned world champions.
Before his move to Juve in 2019, Rabiot spent a period in the PSG reserve system, with fans sick and tired of his surname tarnishing their club, dominating the stories around the place.
“My son is a hostage of the club, he will soon live in prison on bread and water,” Were the words of Veronique, ahead of the summer transfer window after their wage demands were shot down by PSG.
But none of the above will ever compare to the meltdown that ensued at Euro 2020, as France were knocked out of the tournament on penalties by Switzerland.
What we got was a moment of theatre that every wrestling company and every film production company in Hollywood has been striving to create for decades.
With Les Bleus leading the last 16 tie 3-1 with around 10 minutes to play, Switzerland pulled together a dramatic comeback to level the game at 3-3 and force extra time.
They’d eventually pull off a major shock by winning on penalties, but Rabiot’s mother had already begun to steal the show after Mario Gavranovic tucked away the equalising goal.
Veronique Rabiot, Adrien's mother, picking a fight with the families of Paul Pogba and Kylian Mbappe in the stands after France's loss to Switzerland.
— Robin Bairner (@RBairner) June 30, 2021
Veronique lost all composure. Sat in the executive area with the families of other French players, she started a scathing inquest. An inquest that would put anything the UK government could muster up to shame.
Going straight for Paul Pogba’s family, Veronique blazingly questioned them on why he lost possession in the build-up to the killer Swiss counter-attack.
She wasn’t done there, though. As France lost on penalties, Veronique went straight for Kylian Mbappe’s family, telling his father that they ought to ‘reframe’ his son to make him less arrogant. Wow.
The attacks continued, with Veronique going after the press covering the game and ensuring the eyes were off her son Adrien, who by all accounts, had played a game to forget. Not for the first time.
And with his contract up at Juventus this summer, it gives football’s favourite heel manager the chance to thread together another all-action summer for her son – and the press.
Veronique tried to engineer a move for Rabiot to join Manchester United in 2022, but now he’s available for free, don’t be surprised if she tries it again.
Here’s hoping she lasts longer than six months in the city this time around, and manages to keep her hands to herself in the Sir Bobby Charlton stand.
By Mitchell Wilks