Born and raised in the Italian fishing city of Pescara, Marco Verratti must surely never have imagined he would one day be dominating a Chelsea team regarded as one of the best in the club’s history.
But the 22-year-old did exactly that for Paris Saint-Germain at Stamford Bridge this Wednesday, with the Azzurri international showcasing the many facets to his still-developing game.
Down to 10 men for over 90 minutes of football, Verratti put in one of the most complete performances ever seen by a player of his age on a stage this big.
He defended stoutly, supporting the PSG back four at every opportunity.
When the opportunity presented itself for the Parisiens to push forward, it was the Italian who pushed the team forward.
Whether dribbling towards the Blues’ goal or providing the killer pass when required, Verratti showed boundless energy and determination to help the Ligue 1 side escape what had seemed, for so long, to be an almost impossible Champions League predicament.
Described as “the new Andrea Pirlo” during his younger days as a youth prospect at Pescara, the truth is that, on the basis of displays like this, the Italian has the potential to surpass the AC Milan legend.
Little wonder then that the likes of Manchester United, Arsenal and Manchester City all continue to be linked with blockbuster moves for the midfielder.
And it will take exactly that – a blockbuster bid – to prise Verratti away from PSG with some suggesting a fee of around £40m has been mooted.
Yet with the 22-year-old already earning a significant wage in Paris at a club challenging for top honours both domestically and on the continent, it may take an offer simply too good refuse to convince him of the merits of a Premier League switch.
Chelsea’s antics against the Parisiens hardly helped either.
Perhaps United, City and Arsenal would be better off looking at Pirlo.
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