Football

Marco Verratti has the world at his feet

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In the star-studded PSG side there are so many headline-grabbers that Marco Verratti's contribution can often slip under the radar.

With Ibrahimovic's prolific goalscoring, Pastore's trickery and Lucas Moura's raw pace and dribbling ability, the diminutive Italian's graft and craft in the centre of the PSG midfield is perhaps easily overlooked.

This summer has once again seen many transfer rumours, some credible but the majority of which fallacious, about the prospect of A-list talents leaving their clubs - such as the constant chatter about whether Paul Pogba will be Barcelona, Madrid or Manchester bound.

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It is surely only a matter of time until the talented Frenchman makes one of these moves for a potential world-record fee, however, such global superpowers would be better off looking to Paris in their search for a world-class midfield fulcrum.

Marco Verratti may be considerably smaller than than Pogba - Verratti is 5ft 5in while the Frenchman is a lofty 6ft 2in - but the Italian is a giant in the centre of midfield for both his club and country and at only 22 years of age, he is already the heartbeat of the PSG side.

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The Italian has slowly been phased into the team since his move from Pescara in the summer of 2012, but the midfielder's prodigious talent has been evident ever since his professional debut with the Italian club at 16.

Verratti played for hometown club Pescara for a total of 12 years and supposedly rebuffed approaches from Inter Milan's youth academy before signing for the east-coast club. Having joined the academy at the age of seven, Verratti was impressing for Pescara's youth academy before graduating to the first team where he made 74 appearances. In the 2011-2012 season Verratti was instrumental in leading the Italian minnows to Serie A as he ended the season winning the Player of the Year award for Serie B as well as the coveted Bravo Award for the best player under the age of 21 in Europe. 

It was following this remarkable season in Italy that the world's heavyweights came calling and Carlo Ancelotti won the race and brought him to Paris. Since his arrival Verratti has played an integral part in PSG's hat-trick of league title victories and has struck up an important relationship in the PSG midfield with fellow countryman Thiago Motta, as well as with the French workhorse Blaise Matuidi.

Following a contract extension which was signed last summer tying Verratti down until 2019, it appears that the PSG hierarchy are putting their faith in the little Italian and are willing to build their future around him.  

In modern-day football, fans, pundits and even managers are obsessed with stats. The media bombards us ad nauseam with numbers - goals scored, assists made and chances created.

Playing a deep-lying playmaker role, Verratti rarely gets in positions to score goals, exemplified by his meagre tally of two since joining PSG, and is often not the primary assist maker or chance creator in the French side. His contribution, however, is so much greater than the data suggests.

He is an organiser, a battler, a metronomic passer, a tenacious tackler and an on-pitch leader. Positionally-speaking he is at the heart of the PSG team, and Verratti's contribution is the footballing heartbeat that keeps the French side ticking.

Keeping the Italian fit is of paramount importance if they are to challenge both domestically and on the European stage this season. One thing is for sure - PSG are very lucky indeed to have him.

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Topics:
Football
Paris Saint-Germain
Chelsea
Manchester United

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