Warren Zaïre-Emery (17) has experienced a meteoric rise in the past 12 months, not only breaking into the Paris Saint-Germain first-team but also earning his first call-up to the France squad for the upcoming international break.
Zaïre-Emery has become the youngest Frenchman to be called up to the national team since Maurice Gastiger in 1914. At Clairefontaine, the ‘Titi Parisien’ joins up with PSG teammate Kylian Mbappé (24), who like Zaïre-Emery made an early breakthrough into Les Bleus’ squad. Whilst Mbappé was slightly older than Zaïre-Emery when he received his first call-up, he earned it in fewer professional matches. He needed just 41 matches at AS Monaco to earn Didier Deschamps’ call, whilst Zaïre-Emery needed 45.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with Le Parisien, former Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger has said that Zaïre-Emery reminds him of Mbappé, who has since gone on to captain Les Bleus. “We’re speaking of a boy gifted with super talent. He has blossomed exceptionally early. That’s why he’s been called up by Didier. When, at 17, your manager at club level chooses you as one of the first names on the teamsheet, that implies that you exude something that is unstoppable. To some extent, he makes me think of Kylian Mbappé in the sense that people are already unanimous on him, at an age where, in general, everyone says: ‘he’s talented, yes, but let’s see’,” said Wenger.
“Zaïre-Emery is a mix of Kanté, Pogba and Vieira,” – Wenger
Wenger is just the latest prominent figure in the world of football to praise Zaïre-Emery. His manager at PSG, Luis Enrique, has said that the Frenchman is “a diamond” whilst Thierry Henry, who has managed the Parisien at U21 level, told CBS Sports Golazo that “the sky’s the limit” for Zaïre-Emery.
Whilst Zaïre-Emery’s early breakthrough is reminiscent of a young Mbappé, stylistically, there are no comparisons to be drawn. Wenger believes that he is a mix of Paul Pogba, N’Golo Kanté and Patrick Vieira, all greats of the French game. “He has a bit of Paul Pogba’s power, but some common qualities with N’Golo Kanté in his aptitude to win back the ball. Zaïre-Emery is a bit of a mix of the two, a combination of the two 2018 World Champions, with his ability to win the duels without committing fouls and then breaking forward and showing his great vision of the play,” added Wenger.
He also sees a bit of his former captain at Arsenal in Zaïre-Emery. “He has a bit of Patrick too. A box-to-box midfielder as the English say,” he said. Zaïre-Emery is likely to make his debut for Les Bleus, either against Gibraltar or Greece.