Edouard Michut: PSG's teenage midfield star out to catch Pochettino's eye
The 18-year-old has previously been linked with Manchester City and Barcelona as he aims to break through at Parc des Princes
At Paris Saint-Germain, the word 'pathway' is spoken about constantly when it comes to discussing the French giants' incredible wealth of academy talents.
That is because over the past decade, that pathway into the first-team ranks at Parc des Princes has not always been there, leading to a swathe of youngsters leaving the club before going onto thrive elsewhere.
It continues to be a hot topic, too, with a new generation of teenagers looking to force their way into Mauricio Pochettino's plans, all while knowing that breaking into one of the most expensively-assembled sides ever as a rookie is very, very tough.
Things looked good, however, for midfielder Edouard Michut in the summer of 2021.
Having signed a new long-term contract amid rumours of interest from other top European clubs, Michut was invited to spend pre-season training with the senior squad. He impressed, particularly in a friendly appearance against Sevilla, and it seemed that he was destined to remain with the first team going forward.
In mid-August, however, Michut - along with ex-Barcelona forward Xavi Simons - was informed that he would be heading back to the Under-19s; his wait for a place among the elite set to go on for at least another season.
For some players, such a blow at the age of 18 might have resulted in their career beginning to trend downwards, but Michut is not that kind of player.
Instead, while he rarely forgets the negative moments in his career, the midfielder has learned how to channel them into being positives.
An example came in December 2021, as PSG U19s looked for the victory over Club Brugge that they needed to top their UEFA Youth League group and secure an automatic path to the last 16. They, however, found themselves 2-0 down at half=time, with a red card having also reduced them to 10 men.
What followed was an epic second-half comeback, sealing a 3-2 win, and wild celebrations in the dressing room post-match. Michut was right among it, but, on the drive home, his joy subsided as he quickly watched a replay of the match, pointing out his mistakes and ruminating on the bad choices he had made on the day.
"The boy is demanding and remembers everything," Michut's former coach, Jordy Cabarrecq, tells GOAL. "In an U11s tournament for Versailles, he missed a penalty in the semi-final against the Paris Professional Football Training Centre (CFFP). If you talk to him about it today, he will remember it."
Cabarrecq was one of those who moulded Michut's career during the youngster's four years playing for Versailles, first spotting him as a 10-year-old winger before he was gradually moved into the centre of the pitch.
"He already had a way of thinking about the game that the others didn't have, and a quick understanding of instructions," Cabarrecq says. "He always had a good first touch, moved in areas where he could touch the ball but also an ability to eliminate and break lines."
Despite his obvious talent, Michut remained humble, in part due to the attitude his parents took towards his early footballing education.
"They did not tell their son that he was the best,"Cabarrecq remembers. "They were even hard on him. Sometimes he would miss two passes and his father would let him know about it!"
"In his life everything is geared towards football," Michut's agent, Philippe Lamboley, further explains to GOAL. "He is a young man who eats well, who pays attention to his sleep, who works outside training and who even has a gym at home. He does everything he can to succeed."
That willingness to put the work in, combined with his obvious ability, saw Michut sign for PSG as a 13-year-old in 2016, and he worked his way towards becoming one of the stars of the club's youth system.
Comparisons were made with Marco Verratti due to his passing ability, though he generally plays a little further forward than the Italy international, and he developed at such a rate that he made his senior debut against Dijon in February 2021.
At the time, Michut was being linked with the likes of Manchester City, Barcelona and Juventus as he entered the final months of his first professional contract, but that appearance and the promise of more involvement under Pochettino convinced him to sign a fresh deal that would keep him at PSG until 2025.
His demotion back to the youth ranks ahead of the 2021-22 campaign has, however, changed things once more, and Michut has been reflecting on what his future holds during the first half of the season.
PSG are not open to letting him leave in January, either permanently or on loan, but they will likely have to show that there is a pathway for him to earn further opportunities if they are to keep hold of him going forward.
"Edouard Michut is an important player for the club and this is not just talk," explained ex-PSG midfielder Yohan Cabaye in December when speaking to RMC in his role as sporting coordinator of the club's academy.
"He is a player trained at the club. He is a Parisian. He was disappointed when he went down to the U19s, which is understandable, but there is no problem."
Michut, then, heads into what feels like a crucial year in his young career, and having played in both of PSG's Coupe de France games around the turn of the year - including a full debut in the last 32 versus Vannes - he will be hopeful of further opportunities in the early months of 2022.
If they are not forthcoming, then PSG could lose yet another top talent. Building that 'pathway' continues to prove difficult in Paris.
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