As far as attempts to return to the head of the Premier League table go, shelling out a large fortune on a midfielder is, unfortunately, one of Manchester United’s more common paths.
After having had their fingers singed by signing Argentine star Angel Di Maria for what amounted to one £56m-season of frustration, the Red Devils are prepared to drop yet more cash in the hope of landing a title.
According to the latest transfer tattles, Di Maria’s current Paris Saint-Germain teammate, Marco Verratti, is wanted by the Old Trafford club for a whopping £79m.
Unlike the purchase of the former Real Madrid winger, and the myriad other costly middle men United have signed either side of him, Verratti is exactly the sort of star the 13-time Premier League champions need.
A pass-master elegant enough to inherit Andrea Pirlo’s Azzurri keys, the Italian has been a fixture in PSG’s midfield since switching to the French capital from Pescara in 2012.
His season was curtailed by injury this year, limiting him to just 18 Ligue 1 appearances and ruling him out of Euro 2016 as a result, but his stock remains high.
Despite missing a significant chunk of the campaign, the 23-year-old still made more passes per 90 minutes (125.1) than any other PSG player, according to WhoScored.
That was the third successive campaign in which Verratti completed 100 or more passes per 90 minutes. Last season, when Verratti played in 32 league games for Les Rouge-et-Bleu, he contributed a career-high eight assists too. His ability to control a game is clear.
Such a player has been noticeably absent from Manchester United’s side since Paul Scholes retired. Michael Carrick has picked up the mantle admirably in the post-SatNav days, but has never quite matched Scholes for sheer midfield domination.
The last time United had a player complete 100 or more passes per 90 minutes was in Scholes’ final campaign in 2012/13, which just happens to be the last time the Red Devils touched the Premier League trophy.
Ladbrokes make the Old Trafford outfit 9/2 to win the title next season and if they land Verratti this summer, those odds may just pay out.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.