Name: Marco Verratti
DOB: 5th November 1992 (age 20)
Club: Paris Saint Germain
Previous club(s): Pescara
Where's he linked?
A month later SportItalia, via football-italia, speculated that Los Blancos would fork out a fee somewhere around €25 million to tempt him to Spain.
Talk of a move to the Bernabeu hasn't been as rife since, as conversations around the club have instead centered on Jose Mourinho, Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Luis Suarez.
This week though—while away at the Under-21 European Championships with Italy—the 20-year-old didn't want to comment on his future, but didn't rule out Madrid.
Speaking to reporters in Israel he said, via Goal.com: ""The Madrid rumors? I'm here to play with the Under-21 side, this only happens once in my life and I'm fully focused on this competition. After the tournament we will see."
Where's he come from?
Verratti's a defensive midfielder who rose to prominence with his hometown club, Pescara. He made his debut in the 2008/09 season at the age of just 16, and has been on an upward trajectory ever since.
Pescara may have been on the fringes of Serie A, playing in the second and third division while Verratti was at the club, but he still attracted admiring looks from Europe's top clubs, as well as being capped at various youth team levels for Italy.
Despite interest from a number of Italian clubs last summer, Verratti instead opted to join an Italian manager in France.
Carlo Ancelotti's PSG splashing out €12 million to bring him to Ligue 1 on a five-year contract.
What's he like?
After a starring role in Italy's 1-0 win over England at the Under-21 European Championships this week, the Daily Mail's Adam Shergold described him as a "deep-lying playmaker" whose intelligence "put England on the back foot."
Being Italian, the forthcoming comparisons to Andrea Pirlo are obvious.
Already capped three times by the senior Italy side, plus Champions League experience, the waves Verratti has made this past season are anything but similar to those made by Pirlo early in his career.
Not overly blessed with height, strength or pace, against England on Wednesday night he produced a victory for the cultured footballer. His clever passing and intuition to drop into space deservedly won him recognition.
He attempted 120 passes; 48 more than anyone else on his side and 76 more than any England player, via the Daily Mail. Of those passes, he completed 104 for a pass accuracy of 86.7 percent.
Upon leaving Pescara last summer, Italy boss Cesare Prandelli was sad that it was for foreign shores, via the Daily Mail:
"Perhaps we should have been a bit quicker to recognize his talent and stop him from ending up abroad. He is very skillful and has a strong personality."
What are the chances of him signing?
It's difficult to know exactly what is going on at Real Madrid at the moment.
While they wait to finalize the deal which should bring Carlo Ancelotti in to manage the club, their movements in the transfer market aren't as quick as they could be.
The fact that it's Ancelotti who will likely be in charge next season, though, suggests the signing of Verratti is possible.
The Italian coach signed him at PSG and it's likely that he'll be keen to take him to Madrid this summer too—managers have a habit of raiding their old sides.
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