by Steven Bell
By the time Marco Verratti joined Paris Saint Germain in the summer of 2012, he had established himself as the future of the Italian game. Touted as the next Andrea Pirlo, the now 20 year old has already received a call up for the Italian national side, and scored his first international goal, as well as featuring regularly in the PSG revolution currently underway at the Parc des Princes. With great vision and balance, and pin point accuracy with regard to passing, it’s easy to see why comparisons have been made with his hero Pirlo, and why a club gunning for domestic and European silverware, and dominance, would splash out a believed €11 million. However, with interest from Italian giants Juventus and Napoli, and rumours circulating that English clubs were keeping a keen eye on him, was Ligue 1 the best choice for such a young talent?
We all know what’s happening in Paris; big name signings, big money and big ambition, all in a league which is not, and never has been, the strongest in Europe. Lyon’s days of flying the flag for France in Europe are gone, and Les Parisiens are eager to take over as the dominant force in French football. And they will, perhaps. They must, really, with the amount of cash being injected into the first team squad and coaching staff. A team with Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Javier Pastore, Thiago Motta, etc etc, really should be running away with the title in France. Especially when you look at the opposition; although by no means substandard, simply nowhere near the level that PSG are aspiring to get to. However, reaching the last 16 of the Champion’s League, and topping Ligue 1, it would seem things are going according to plan for Les Parisiens. At first glance, a good move for anyone looking to further their career, let alone a Pescara born 19 year old who has all the potential to become a great, dominant deep-lying midfielder. Nevertheless, one can’t help but feel staying in Italy would have better suited the youngster.
In the appearances so far this season for PSG, Verratti has impressed; two assists, and good displays all round really, notably against Valencia in the Champion’s League last 16 tie at the Mestalla. Of course, this brings great experience for one so young, but how challenging is it? Verratti stood out in a Pescara team, which can be described as minnows at the time, and was influential for Zdenek Zeman’s Pescara and their promotion to Serie A. Winning the Serie B Player of the Year, he shone against better teams and players, and the Italian game suited his type of play perfectly. Ligue 1 has to be described as inferior to Italy, England, Germany and Spain, and to be in the best team in said league, could cast doubt on the progression of such a talent, and the headway he is actually making. Staying in Serie A could have better served Marco; it could have been a place where he dominated games and developed his style of play; honing his skills, maturing on the pitch and evolving into the backbone of a side. An AC Milan team, now interested in taking him for the 2013/2014 season, looks like a great home for him. Milan are rebuilding a team, and a 20 year old Marco Verratti could be a perfect point on which to build.
There is no doubt Verratti will be a fantastic player. He is a fantastic player. We have been saying that since his Pescara debut at 16. But now could be a delicate time for him. He opted for the tantalizing, big money move to a potential European giant after a season of greatness in Italy’s second tier. He has performed well enough, but having recently stated a desire to return to Italy, and current interest from Milan, the summer of 2013 could be a defining moment for the progression of Marco Verratti.