7th December 2017.
Top of Ligue 1 and the bookmakers' favourites to claim a first ever Champions League title, Paris Saint-Germain's record-breaking summer investment is on course to reap the desired dividends.
The Parisians' quest to recover their standing atop of the French football landscape and make serious inroads towards continental glory has undoubtedly been significantly boosted by the arrivals of Neymar and Kylian MpabbÃ©, who have combined for 24 goals and 17 assists to date in all competitions. And the signing of veteran full-back Dani Alves should not be underestimated, with the Brazilian offering experience and quality.
But one of the most significant factors in PSG's remarkable start to the 2017/18 season can be found in a man who has called the Parc des Princes home for more than seven years. The departure of Blaise Matuidi for Juventus in the summer meant that Adrien Rabiot would be further entrusted with a key role in the French side's midfield this term, and the 22-year-old has not disappointed.
The one-time Manchester City academy standout has been exceptional for PSG, even if his stellar work in the middle of the park is often overshadowed by the more eye-catching exploits of his attacking colleagues.
Partnering gifted Italian playmaker Marco Verratti, Rabiot has progressed to become one of the most complete central midfielders in Europe over the last 18 months, while still somehow managing to fly somewhat under the radar.
As Thiago Motta ages and is less able to play every minute of every game for Unai Emery's men, Rabiot's defensive instincts have developed, allowing the five-cap France international to cover for the former Inter Milan star's declining mobility, plugging gaps and pressing intelligently.
Rabiot's work in possession is even more impressive. Although most of the plaudits are reserved for Verratti's metronomic dictating abilities, the French youngster is technically outstanding, capable of safely controlling possession as well and breaking the opposition's lines with incisive forward balls when required.
Indeed, of all the midfielders in Ligue 1 this season, only Nice's Vincent Koziello can better Rabiot's phenomenal 93.2 per cent pass accuracy, while the PSG star's average of 90.3 passes per 90 minutes, comfortably the highest of his career, shows his increasing importance to Parisians.
Regarded as an elite prospect for some time, the performance that best evidenced the young midfielder's readiness to compete at the highest level came during last season's Champions League last-16 first-leg trouncing of Barcelona at the Parc des Princes. The Catalan giants were vanquished 4-0 and Rabiot shone, dominating the likes of Sergio Busquets and Andres Iniesta.
Rabiot's breakout performance caught the eye of a man who knows a thing or two about top-class midfielders, too. "He could play for Barcelona no problem and he would adapt without a problem," BarÃ§a legend Xavi toldÂ Le Parisien in May this year.
"He knows how to organise the play, defend, dribble, attack. He's a complete player, just as much when he has the ball as when he does not."
Praise comes from no higher station in the world of midfield playmakers, and Xavi was justified in singling the Saint-Maurice man for praise.
This season has seen Rabiot attain a greater level of consistency, owing much to the fact that he is now unquestionably a member of PSG's first-choice XI. This hasn't always been the case since his debut as a teenager in 2012/13. The Frenchman was often found to be impatient, talking up a potential move away from Paris in order to secure regular action elsewhere, despite his tender years and the wealth of talent competing for game time at PSG.
"I've asked the president for a loan move in January if my time on the field is insufficient," he said in December 2015, frustrated at his bit-part role at the time. "It's something that he can't refuse me I know he likes me very much."
Perhaps in an attempt to force PSG's hand, signalling a willingness to sever ties if greater first-team involvement was not immediately forthcoming, the player's mother, Veronique, echoed Rabiot's sentiment in an interview with Canal Supporters.
"He needs 35 full games a season to be able to continue improving," she said. "Adrien won't get them next season. As he can't get a place for himself, it's preferable he leaves. Adrien is happy when he wears PSG's colours. He's not leaving for leaving's sake. He wants to leave to play. If he can't play at PSG, his choice would be to go to the Premier League."
Right now, given his newfound status as one of the vital cogs in an exciting and rapidly progressing PSG side, Rabiot is unlikely to agitate for a move. Among a cast of expensively assembled mega stars, the 22-year-old has the chance to become the homegrown poster boy for a side set to be contesting major honours at home and abroad for years to come.
Far from settling on his laurels, though, Rabiot is focussed on truly fulfilling his vast potential, cognisant of the flaws that remain in his game and working to improve.
"I need to improve on a statistical level, to be more present in front of the goal, to score more, to make more passes," he told RMC Sport earlier this season.
"For a box-to-box midfielder, it's essential to be decisive.
"I could also make progress in terms of my aerial game in front of goal. There are a lot of things, but I feel that I'm making progress."
However, having already namechecked Real Madrid as a possible destination in a previous interview, the French international again felt compelled to discuss a potential future away from the Parc des Princes.
"There are a lot of very good leagues. It's also enriching to go elsewhere, but for the moment I'm happy at PSG," he explained.
"I would love to play in theÂ Premier League. There's not necessarily any club in particular, even though when I was young I was a big Liverpool fan.
"Yes, I can understand that my ambition, my impatience can annoy some people.
"But the main thing is that it has been useful to me, today I am here, sometimes you have to dare to say things."
As one of Europe's outstanding young midfielders showing signs of developing into a genuinely world-class star, the Ligue 1 table-toppers will not be considering parting ways with Rabiot any time soon. And, for now, the player is content to continue riding the tidal wave of momentum PSG are building.
This article has been written for Soccer Box, an online store stocking all the latest and official Paris Saint Germain soccer jerseys, by Ryan Baldi.
PSG Midfielder Adrien Rabiot: Driven to Succeed
7th December 2017.