Marco Verratti was the best player on the pitch when Paris Saint-Germain played Chelsea in their Champions League last-16 first leg clash at Parc des Princes last night.
The 22-year-old showed once again why he is now regarded as one of the brightest young talents in all of Europe after another commanding display in the middle of the park on Tuesday evening, and demonstrated why he would be the perfect acquisition for Manchester United this summer.
Alongside David Luiz and Blaise Matuidi, Verratti excelled in a midfield three, making relatively light work of the challenge posed by Jose Mourinho's side, who were lucky to leave the French capital with the tie still delicately poised at 1-1 at the halfway stage.
The Italy international grew in stature the longer the game went on, his subtle supremacy becoming increasingly dominant the more the Blues retreated, until eventually they were camped in their own half clinging on for the final whistle.
Verratti's vision and sublime technique is a combination of valuable attributes present in only the very best deep-lying playmakers on the planet, but what's brilliant about the PSG man is the fact he's able to merge that sophisticated style with a much more rugged approach to playing.
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That physical nature belies the modest 5ft 5in frame that can be frequently seen scuttling across the pitch, but Verratti is not suffering from a case of 'little man syndrome' because his conduct has become increasingly measured the more he's matured with each passing performance.
The Italian's character was previously called into question during his early days at Pescara, and in his debut campaign in Ligue 1 some detractors debated whether Verratti had the required temperament to make it at the very top level.
However, Verratti's now proving he not only has the ability to become a world-class talent, but also the tactical awareness and intelligence to learn from the experience of previous mistakes.
That tenacious aggression has not left Verratti, he's just able to better control his behaviour on the pitch, even if Mourinho thought the dogged despot should have been sent off for a questionable over-the-ball tackle on Eden Hazard last night.
Thankfully for PSG, Verratti escaped with a yellow card and was therefore allowed to continue pulling the strings for Laurent Blanc's side. His dismissal could well have swung the game back in Chelsea's favour, which would have been disastrous had the hosts headed to Stamford Bridge with a deficit.
The creative side of Verratti's game also deserves a special mention, and is another reason why he would be perfectly suited to the role that Louis van Gaal is openly looking to fill at Old Trafford.
More expansive than Daley Blind but less reckless in possession than Ander Herrera, Verratti seems to have found the ideal balance between industry and adventure that means he is exactly the kind of player the Red Devils should be paying big money to bring to the Premier League.
Man Utd must have
With the most completed passes of any player across Europe's top five leagues this season, Verratti would represent a value-for-money link between Manchester United's defence and attack next season, and even at £40 million must be top of the club's transfer shortlist this summer.
Manchester United fans: Would you like to see Louis van Gaal sign Marco Verratti this summer? Do you think he is worth the money? Share your thoughts below…
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