Who is Warren Zaire-Emery? PSG's 16-year-old wonderkid set to start vs Bayern Munich in Champions League last-16 tie
Warren Zaire-Emery is making make his first Champions League start on Tuesday, and it's a big test for the youngster against Bayern Munich in PSG's last-16 first leg.
At just 16 years old, the centre-midfielder has steadily earned minutes amid PSG's crowded midfield ranks. Manager Christophe Galtier has underlined his faith in the teenager by handing him a massive role in PSG's biggest contest of the season so far.
GOAL takes a look at Zaire-Emery, and explains why Galtier has handed him a start in such a crucial match.
Who is Warren Zaire-Emery?
Zaire-Emery is the jewel of PSG's academy. A versatile midfielder with a knack for scoring goals, the teenager has starred at every level.
He first caught the eye on a wider stage after helping lead France to the Under-17s European Championship in June 2021. Since then, he has worked his way through the club ranks, and started to earn regular minutes this year.
Entering Tuesday, Zaire-Emery has made 14 appearances across all competitions, including three starts. He scored his first Ligue 1 goal against Montpellier, coming off the bench to seal a 3-1 win with a calm finish.
But Champions League playing time is relatively novel - he has only tallied 12 minutes in the competition so far this year. Now, Zaire-Emery is the youngest player to start a Champions League knockout game in history.
Our starting eleven for #PSGFCB at the Parc des Princes! ⏳#UCL I @EASPORTSFIFA pic.twitter.com/1PVsQpyIWy— Paris Saint-Germain (@PSG_English) February 14, 2023
What position does Warren Zaire-Emery play?
Zaire-Emery is a versatile centre-midfielder. In the academy, he played as both a No.6 and No.8, but showed a penchant for getting forward. He also likes a shot from distance. Although Zaire-Emery is naturally right-footed, he can use both feet, which allows him to be an excellent distributor.
PSG see him as an all-round prospect who can fill in perfectly in any of their three central-midfield slots. For the Parisians, he is more likely to play as a No.8, though, as Danilo Pereira or Marco Verratti tend to sit in the deeper-lying role.
Why has Galtier handed him a full debut vs. Bayern Munich?
Zaire-Emery has shown immense potential this season, often keeping more established players such as Fabian Ruiz or Carlos Soler out of the lineup.
And with Bayern's fearsome defensive midfield duo of Joshua Kimmich and Leon Goretzka lining up at the Parc des Princes, Zaire-Emery could be crucial.
What have people said about Zaire-Emery?
Galtier has hailed Zaire-Emery as a key part of his squad.
“I have to have some competition in the squad,” Galtier said. “If a 16 and a half or 17 year old is more capable of playing than the other players, they will play.”
A scout from a major European club also noted Zaire-Emery's maturity, telling GOAL last year: "He is comfortable regardless of which way he is facing, which is important given he can play as a No.6 or No.8. He is a boy who has precision accuracy and an excellent weight of pass. He manages to find difficult passing angles, regardless of whether they are short or long balls.
"He also has great finishing ability and a quality of shot from outside the box, which means he can be an offensive threat. He is a very complete player, and a constant figure throughout games he plays in."
Zaire-Emery now has the chance to show just how complete he is.