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Things to know about PSG’s new wonderkid

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Around the world, there are plenty of young players who generate excitement, but few attract hype quite like Paris Saint-Germain sensation Warren Zaire-Emery.

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Born in 2006, the 16-year-old midfielder is widely accepted to be perhaps the top talent in the world in his age group, and he’s already making an impact on PSG’s senior side by scoring his first goal for the club in his ninth Ligue 1 appearance of the season.

With a long career at the highest level almost a certainty for Zaire-Emery, it’s time you got to know him.

Born in the Parisian suburb of Montreuil, Zaire-Emery joined PSG in 2014 and was quickly promoted beyond his age group, becoming the youngest player in the history of the team’s Under-19s when he made his debut at 15. Indeed, in younger sides, Zaire-Emery often had to be withdrawn because coaches began to grow concerned that other players had stopped trying against him.

Some stand-out performances in the UEFA Youth League saw Zaire-Emery, still only 15, called up to PSG’s senior squad under Mauricio Pochettino, and he went on to make his debut under Christophe Galtier early in the 2022/23 season.

The records quickly started to tumble. Zaire-Emery became the club’s youngest ever player, the club’s youngest Champions League player, youngest starter and youngest goalscorer, while he was also the first 2006-born player to feature in the Champions League.

Internationally, Zaire-Emery was the only 2006-born player to make France’s Under-17 squad for Euro 2022, in which he was one of the stand-out performers en route to winning the whole thing.

A central midfielder who often lines up at the base of midfield, Zaire-Emery is a real box-to-box force who carries the ball forward at any given opportunity.

Memories of Yaya Toure’s surging midfield runs come to mind when watching Zaire-Emery who, while not sharing the Ivorian’s strength, is just as dominant when it comes to beating defenders and advancing possession, ensuring his side are always on the front foot.

“[Midfield] is a position I started in when I arrived at PSG,” he explained to France Bleu. “Before, I was on the right and I liked to dribble. Now, in the middle, it’s a position with a lot of responsibility because you’re the one who bridges the gap between defence and attack.

“I like to defend, project myself and play the role of midfielder.”

What has left scouts screaming about Zaire-Emery is the fact that he can do pretty much everything.

As previously mentioned, his movement and ball-carrying are sublime for a player of his age. The teenager makes everything he does look so effortless, possessing excellent technical and physical skills which far surpass his years.

Zaire-Emery is an intelligent footballer who knows how to identify space on the pitch and is capable of getting the ball there, whether that be through a pass or a dribble.

He doesn’t shy away from defending, either, using that awareness and his solid frame to recover the ball and kick-start counters in the blink of an eye.

To find faults in Zaire-Emery’s game requires you to be hyper-critical. After all, he’s only 16, but the expectancy surrounding him is high enough to justify the intense scrutiny that comes with bona-fide future superstars.

Zaire-Emery’s passing is not yet at an elite level, with the teenager perhaps needing to work on his long-range game for alternatives to his driving runs from deep, but he has already flashed signs of becoming a top-level creator.

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