Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Marco Verratti emerged as one of the brightest young stars in Ligue 1 during the 2012-13 season.
Sky Sports reported on Thursday that PSG was opening up contract discussions with the talented youngster to ward off potential suitors, but the latest reports surrounding those negotiations don't suggest Verratti's future in France is a lock.
As reported by Mark Rodden of ESPNFC.com, Verratti reportedly asked the French champions to grant him a transfer request. PSG refused, and now speculation is swirling about what the next move is for both Verratti and the club.
The situation was originally reported on by L'Equipe, which claims that the two sides have been unable to compromise on a sufficient raise in wages.
Expect Manchester United to be on full alert if Verratti suddenly is auctioned off to the highest bidder before the current transfer window closes.
Verratti would be an excellent addition to new manager David Moyes' lineup.
TalkSPORT reported on Thursday that United would be one of many clubs interested in reprising their interest in the young midfielder. If his contract situation with PSG reaches an impasse, United, Napoli, Juventus and others would have no hesitation in placing a transfer bid.
Per that report, United could turn their attentions to Verratti if their current pursuit of Barcelona's Cesc Fabregas comes up short. According to a Friday report from ESPN UK, the Red Devils might already be facing that reality.
Barca vice president Josep Maria Bartomeu spoke up about Fabregas' status on Friday. His latest comments likely don't sit well with United fans:
It doesn't matter what any offer from Manchester United is, we're not selling him...We're counting on him. He's not for sale. If there was a higher offer would we accept it? No. He's a great player. It doesn't bother us that Manchester United want him. We're proud that a club like that wants one of our players.
The ESPN UK report does mention that Fabregas has expressed interest in returning to the Premier League. That being said, there's little evidence to suggest anything less than being floored by an offer would sway Barcelona management.
At the very least, Fabregas is a risky option for the Red Devils. If he stays at Camp Nou, Moyes and Co. will have to avert their efforts elsewhere quickly to upgrade their roster before next season begins.
Verratti could be an upgrade that would pay quick dividends.
The 20-year-old helped Carlo Ancelotti's PSG outfit capture the Ligue 1 table last season. In doing so, he completed the first year of a five-year contract agreement. Verratti was previously affiliated with Serie B club Pescara.
On the surface, his stats don't point to the idea that he is a star in the making. He did not record a goal in 33 starts for Ancelotti last season, but it would be an injustice to say that his impact could be measured from goals alone.
For starters, Verratti is excellent at keeping possession of the ball for his squad. As this tweet from OptaJean would suggest, he's proficient at setting his teammates up all over the field:
55.1 – Marco Verratti made 55.1 successful passes per game in Ligue 1 2012/13, more than any other PSG player (min.15 matches). Doubt.— OptaJean (@OptaJean) July 19, 2013
WhoScored.com's Twitter account has also noted how impressive Verratti has been during his brief stint with PSG:
Marco Verratti: Completed an accurate pass every 1.19 mins in Ligue 1 last season, the best of every player with 5+ apps— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) July 26, 2013
There's a lot of uncertainty about the squad Moyes is inheriting, particularly in the midfield. Wayne Rooney's future is still in doubt, and the pursuit of Fabregas has taken up a hefty chunk of United's transfer attention.
That being said, United could do worse than adding a midfielder who understands the nuances of the game at a young age and contributes to the overall flow of keeping the ball moving.
If you agree with Sky Sports' Graeme Bailey, United would be getting a steal if they could outmaneuver the other clubs interested in nabbing Verratti from his current outfit:
I thought PSG's Marco Verratti was top class in Italy's midfield - he is going to be a legend.— Graeme Bailey (@GraemeBailey) June 5, 2013
After gathering all the information surrounding Verratti in the past couple of days, it's far too early to list United as a favorite to land the Italian starlet.
That being said, United's pockets would remain deep if the Fabregas situation blows up. If Rooney ends up being sold (so far, United have not budged), the Red Devils stand to have more ammunition toward transfer spending.
United will have plenty of money to throw Verratti's way if PSG decides they are done trying to negotiate a raise for their young player. It's still very early in the process, but Verratti would be an ideal fit for the Red Devils if they can push their way into the fray for his services.
Follow B/R's Ethan Grant (@DowntownEG) on Twitter.