Warren Zaire-Emery: Who is the record-breaking 16-year-old PSG star

PSG’s 16-year-old sensation Warren Zaire-Emery is the club’s youngest ever debutant who was dubbed ‘an ALIEN’ by team-mates when he broke into the first team… after two goals in three games, it’s no wonder the midfielder has been linked with Arsenal and Bayern

  • Warren Zaire-Emery has broken into the PSG first-team set-up aged just 16
  • The defensive midfielder has broken multiple records for the French champions
  • Zaire-Emery has been seen as their top current talent from their academy

After Paris Saint-Germain fell to a 3-1 defeat on Monaco on Saturday, their goalscorer came forward post match to urge the team to respond quickly to address their current slump.

‘It’s been a few defeats in a row, so we have to pull ourselves together quickly and give the best of ourselves in each match,’ Warren Zaire-Emery said.

The maturity would perhaps be unexpected from a 16-year-old in a squad containing Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappe and Neymar. Yet the teenager has shown throughout his rapid and record-breaking rise that he is undaunted by being one of the youngest players in a team.

Zaire-Emery has now made 14 appearances for PSG during his breakthrough season and it would be no surprise to see him involved in the club’s crunch Champions League last-16 tie against Bayern Munich.

Sportsmail takes a look at Zaire-Emery and the youngster’s emergence in the first team set-up at PSG.

Warren Zaire-Emery (left) has broken a series of records since breaking into the PSG first-team

Who is he?

Zaire-Emery is a Paris local having been born in Montreuil in the eastern suburbs of the French capital. His dad Franck Emery had been a midfielder himself for Red Star FC, with his career peaking in the second tier of French football in the late 1990s.

Emery later played for FCM Aubervilliers, the club Warren joined at just four years old after his father had noticed his talent. He told RMC Sport had had allowed his son to join provided he could tie his own shoelaces.

Emery told the French publication that he had attended a tournament with his cousin, where Zaire-Emery’s natural talent first became evident to them.

‘There was a ball coming towards me, and I clipped a 30-yard pass in the air towards Warren, who cushioned the ball on his chest as if he had been practising it every day.

‘Me and my cousin looked at each other and we said: ”That’s not bad at all!’

Zaire-Emery was snapped up by the PSG academy in 2014, aged eight. He has regularly played in higher age groups throughout his development.

Zaire-Emery’s rise through the age groups has continued as he joined PSG’s under-19 squad last year at the age of 15, playing 27 matches in the French Championship and the UEFA Youth League.

His performances in the latter gained particular attention, with the midfielder playing key role in his sides passage to the quarter-finals.

Zaire-Emery, right, rose to prominence with his performances in the UEFA Youth League

The displays led to then PSG head coach Mauricio Pochettino calling Zaire-Emery up to first team training. Christophe Galtier, Pochettino’s replacement in the dugout, handed Zaire-Emery his debut as a late substitute in their 5-0 opening day win over Clermont, replacing Marco Verratti at just 16 years and 151 days.

‘He was very serious and very good during pre-season,’ Galtier said. ‘I had to give him his first minutes. It’s important to put out words into action.’

Records have continued to tumble since with Zaire-Emery becoming the club’s youngest player to play in the Champions League back in October, before being handed his first Ligue 1 start against Rennes last month.

He became PSG’s youngest ever scorer against Montpellier at the start of February, before scoring their only goal in the 3-1 loss to Monaco on Saturday.

Zaire-Emery’s ability was recognised by the club in December when he received their Titi d’Or prize. The honour is presented annually to the most promising talent in the club’s academy, with Kingsley Coman among the most prominent names on the roll of honour.

What type of player is he?

Zaire-Emery has come through PSG’s ranks as a defensive midfielder, with his reading of the game initially coming to the detriment to the development of his peers.

One of his former coaches, Bafode Diakite, likened Zaire-Emery to a firefighter who helped to compensate for the mistakes of his team-mates.

‘We felt that him being there was becoming counterproductive for the team, because when the ball was lost, Warren compensated for everything, rebalanced everything and the other players made less effort,’ Diakite said.

‘I had to remind the other players that Warren was not the firefighter on duty.’

Zaire-Emery has shown an ability to drive with the ball through midfield past challenges

Zaire-Emery’s ability to control a game was proved during their UEFA Youth League run last year. As a 15-year-old he was called off the bench in the 55th minute of a crucial group stage match against Club Brugge, with his side trailing 2-0 and down to 10-men.

The midfielder was credited with helping his side gain control of the match, ultimately scoring a goal and providing an assist as PSG fought back to win 3-2 and advance to the knock-out stage.

Zaire-Emery also has the ability to drive forward, highlighted a goal in this year’s UEFA Youth League, where the 16-year-old received the ball in his own half before powering into the Juventus box and finishing calmly.

What have people said about him?

Galtier has sung the youngster’s praises in recent weeks, with the PSG head coach insisting the Zaire-Emery has justified the opportunities he has been given.

He declaring himself to be ‘very happy’ with Zaire-Emery’s display after handing the 16-year-old his first league start for the club.

‘I have to bring competition,’ Galtier said. ‘If a 16-17 year old player is more fit to play than others, he will play.’

Despite PSG’s star-studded squad list, Zaire-Emery has impressed the club’s senior professionals since being elevated into the first team set-up.

Portuguese midfielder Vitinha reportedly quizzed Jorge Mendes about his young client’s abilities after being stunned by his performances in training.

‘Who is this kid you took in your stable? It’s an alien’ Vitinha told the agent.

PSG coach Christophe Galtier has praised Zaire-Emery’s early displays in the first team

Zaire-Emery was reportedly compared to an alien by PSG team-mate Vitinha

International pedigree?

Zaire-Emery was the youngest member of France’s team at the Under-17 European Championships last year, having been the only player born in 2006 to feature on the squad list.

He scored twice during the tournament with each goal reflecting his ability.

Zaire-Emery’s first came in the group stage against Bulgaria where he robbed the ball off a defender before firing past the goalkeeper.

His second effort was more spectacular, a driven 30-yard effort in France’s quarter-final victory over Portugal.

Zaire-Emery also played every minute of the final against Holland, with France emerging as 2-1 winners.

Who wants him?

Unsurprisingly interest has been high in the PSG talent, with Bayern Munich and RB Leipzig in Germany having reportedly held an interest last summer following his displays in youth competitions.

Zaire-Emery, who has been reportedly been represented by Mendes since July 2021, ultimately has remained with PSG.

The French champions were quick to hand the teenager his first professional contract last year amid the interest from abroad. The deal signed last July which ties him to the Parisiens until the end of June 2025.

Despite signing the contract, Zaire-Emery remains of interest to top European clubs, with Premier League leaders Arsenal having been reported to have considered testing PSG with a bid last month. 

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