Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has said Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Marco Verratti wants to move to the Camp Nou, although the French club remain unwilling to negotiate a summer transfer.
Bartomeu recently spoke to Ernest Folch of Catalan newspaper Sport and was asked why he felt the proposed move for Verratti was "mission impossible," to which he replied:
"Verratti is a player we like. Robert [Fernandez] wants him to come, as do [Ernesto] Valverde and [Pep] Segura. And we know that the player wants to come to Barca. The problem is that PSG have now told us they don't want to negotiate. The fact there is no release clause is a problem because you can't go there and sign a player. For that reason, if the club don't want to sell, as is the case here: 'we don’t want to sell, we don't want to sit down with you, we will talk about whatever you want, but not about Verratti.'"
The Blaugrana have been incessantly linked with a move for Verratti in recent years and appear to be gaining speed in their pursuit as they seek the Andres Iniesta replacement Goal's Ben Hayward recently mused upon:
Iniesta, 33, is entering the twilight years of a glittering Camp Nou career, and perhaps more so than Lionel Messi or Neymar, he will need replacing, as he's the effervescent metronome behind Barca's midfield success.
Donato Di Campli, Verratti's agent, told Italian daily Corriere dello Sport of his view that PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi served as "a prisoner of Paris Saint-Germain's," explaining why the midfielder could not be sold (h/t Marca):
"Paris Saint-Germain want to build a competitive team that wins in Europe and doesn't just win Ligue 1 and the French Cup and there has been a lot of talk about [Kylian] Mbappe and an offer of 150 million euros, but no Champions League-calibre player has arrived so far."
To refuse to sell Verratti for 100m euros has become a matter of pride. Do you know what [Nasser] Al-Khelaifi told me? He said that there is a contract to 2021 and that we can't ever sell [Verratti] because he is considered to be a champion and a player the team is to be built around. He said if [Al-Khelaifi] sells him he'd be risking his job and that in Doha they'd never forgive him.
"He is a prisoner of Paris Saint-Germain's Emir."
Verratti has been perfecting his craft in Paris for five years now, having joined as a prospect from Pescara in 2012 and rising to become one of the most respected midfielders in Europe while still only 24 years of age.
That's the blend of talent and maturity Barcelona are presumably seeking to be their new beacon in the middle of the park, one whom Bleacher Report's Sam Tighe suggested could become part of the club's newest dynasty:
New Barca boss Ernesto Valverde faces an uphill struggle in leading the club back into major silverware contention following Luis Enrique's departure from the helm—the previous boss only won the Copa del Rey in his final season at the club.
And landing a player of Verratti's magnitude would serve as a big indicator as to how much the club place faith in his guidance, considering the Italy international will require a massive fee to bring to Spain.
The Blaugrana do have their alternatives in the transfer market should they fail to land Verratti, per Sport Witness, although none measure up to the primary option in terms of quality at present:
"You could say that Verratti is a little like a prisoner at PSG. A player gives his best when he is motivated. If Marco wants to leave the club because he's not motivated or has a reason to go, the club should consider his petition. He is an extraordinary player, I hope he makes the right decision, one which makes him feel better as a footballer."
All signs suggest Verratti and Barcelona want the move to happen this summer, but PSG aren't a club that can be bullied into a sale as easily as others, throwing doubt over whether they'll ever let their talisman leave.