Scouting Marco Verratti: PSG and Italy Midfielder with a Bright Future
Marco Verratti is fast rising to the pinnacle of European football and has enjoyed a whirlwind journey over the past year.
It was only 12 months ago that Verratti was starring for Zdenek Zeman's Pescara in Serie B, pulling the strings as the Delfini's regista on the way to clinching the title.
The 20 year old possesses exceptional technique and a wonderful range of passing that makes him the ideal candidate to build a team around.
His rare set of skills — that has drawn comparisons with the great Andrea Pirlo — caused a clamour for his signature last summer.
Carlo Ancelotti was clearly aware of the opportunity to snare a gifted player for a relatively cheap price and persuaded PSG to blow any Italian side that was interested out of the water, sealing Verratti's signature for an initial £8.6 million.
Verratti — unlike the vast majority of super talents emerging in modern football — is not a supreme athlete, neither possessing raw pace or a powerful frame in order to physically dominate games.
Verratti calls upon other skills to be able to deceive his opponents, namely his clever movement, balance and wonderful poise on the ball.
While Pirlo is not a far-fetched comparison, especially due to his willingness to drop between the centre-backs and craft his side's attacks. A comparison that has not been mentioned enough—but could be even more apt when you consider Verratti's greatest asset—is Claude Makelele, specifically due to the similar lateral movement.
Verratti often explodes off his instep to create a yard of space and an angle for a teammate, or complete a triangle, forming the foundations for a side that is looking to emulate Barcelona's tiki-taka style.
It is this comparison that makes me believe that Cesare Prandelli might look to conjure up a plan to accommodate both Pirlo and Verratti into the same formation sooner than most expected. Many thought that there would be a transition between Pirlo's international career ending and Verratti's starting, but it feels like the pair can star together.
It would be fascinating to see the Azzurri operate a Doble Cinco, especially with the emergence of talented wide players such as Stephan El Shaarawy, which might lead Prandelli to experiment with a 4-2-3-1.
I particularly enjoy the way that Verratti caresses the ball and shrugs off numerous players in Ligue 1 with relentless energy to snap around his ankles—shifting the ball from the inside to the outside of his boot, left and right, never straying more than a couple of inches away from his boot.
Perhaps the most enjoyable part of Verratti's game—since his movement is perhaps not as obvious at first glance—is his long, lofted passes that dissect the opposition's defence with unimaginable angles.
While Verratti has established himself quickly among the ranks of world class talent at the Parc des Princes, just like Mario Balotelli at Manchester City, the lure of featuring for one of his country's elite clubs will always have its appeal.
With Verratti's importance growing by the game—from facing the Netherlands for the Azzurri to Valencia at the Mestalla in the Champions League—it is natural to expect the 20 year old to crave a starring role for Les Parisiens.
Currently Blaise Matuidi and Thiago Motta (when fit) would be ahead of the young Abruzzese in the pecking order and with the inevitable opportunities that will emerge from the peninsula, Verratti's ambition might cause him to consider his future.
Clubs such as Milan or Inter could offer him more responsibility than he currently holds at PSG, as well as increased exposure to the Italian press to start a clamor for him to be installed as a starter for the national team.
It would be a big decision for the youngster to consider returning to Italy, especially since he would surely have to accept a wage cut due to the vast majority of Italian clubs being unable to match the extortionate money that PSG can offer.
It is probably wishful thinking on any Serie A club's part to believe that Verratti can be snared from the Ligue 1 giants so prematurely after leaving Italian football. His progress has been so swift that PSG has already seen enough of the player's extraordinary potential to know that Verratti needs to be fully integrated sooner than expected.
Whether that will be at the expense of Motta or Matuidi is anybody's guess and whether Ancelotti remains in charge of PSG could play a huge role. Wherever Verratti continues his rapid rise to prominence, it is going to be a pleasure watching this magician become a cornerstone for both club and country.
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