It might be hard to believe, but there are times when Paris Saint-Germain don’t break the bank on transfer fees and look for deals in the open market instead. Marco Verratti is an example of a bargain the club discovered over the past several years and the Italian has become one of the best signings of the Qatar Sports Investments-era.
Since arriving from Delfino Pescara 1936 in 2012, Verratti has turned himself into one of the best midfielders in Europe. As a result, other clubs like FC Barcelona have come knocking to pry the 25-year-old from Paris, but to no avail. Although significant clubs have shown interest over the past few seasons, Verratti has stagnated on his way to reaching his full potential.
Production in Paris
Paris is a city known for the flash and style and that is exactly how you can describe Verratti’s passing game. It’s an art form. Three seasons ago, Verratti appeared as though he was becoming one of the elites at his position. During the 2015-16 season, he established himself as one of the better passers in Ligue 1 as he led the entire league in total passes per 90 minutes with 125.5.
— محمد (@Bo3ayed) May 12, 2016
Furthermore, Verratti’s accuracy was also one of the best in France as he averaged 116.6 accurate passes per 90 and an accurate pass percentage of 93. After a breakout season from a passing perspective and developing it as one of his better skills, Verratti again averaged over 100 passes per 90 with 111 and 102.3 of them being on point. Although his key passes over those two years weren’t the best in Ligue 1, Verratti did show up to create scoring chances during UEFA Champions League competition.
In 2015-16 and 2016-17, he averaged 2.3 and 2.6 key passes per 90 for PSG. During these two seasons, Verratti turned himself into arguably the best midfielder in Ligue 1 and one of the best in Europe. This past season didn’t see Gufetto stagnant, actually, he reached over 100 total passes per 90 for the third straight season with 106.5, which led all of Ligue 1.
Nonetheless, through all the production Verratti has done for Les Parisiens, the lone memory that supporters will have from last season is the crashing and burning in the Champions League. In the second leg versus Real Madrid last season, Verratti drew a red card and left his team virtually no chance for a comeback. His exit embodied yet another disappointing year in European competition and supporters are left wondering if he is capable of leading the club into the latter stages of the Champions League.
Issues off the Pitch
Although it could be chalked up as a one-off incident for Verratti, high expectations are on the shoulders of the 5’5″ midfielder. Supporters expect him to produce at an elite level, which he does, but the expectations are also to show up consistently in big matches, especially on the road when the club needs him the most.
Also, it brings up the question of his commitment to his craft and desire to have his name alongside the likes of Paul Pogba, Toni Kroos, Luka Modrić, and other elite midfielders. Long before his disappointing exit against Madrid, his lifestyle has always led some to speculate whether or not Verratti is serious about mastering his craft.
Questions of his cigarette smoking and party habits are hurdles that prevent him from taking that next step and be in the discussion as one of the best players in the world. It’s not talent nor limitation that prevent Verratti from reaching his full potential, it’s off the pitch factors that stop him from being at that level. In the end, it’s up to Verratti to shed these habits and focus on the task at hand because he has the talent, but it’s the will to be great that remains a question mark.
Going Forward in the Tuchel Era
Whether or not Verratti is still living this lifestyle remains to be seen, but with Thomas Tuchel now in charge, it could help him reach his potential. It starts off the pitch. Tuchel is known for wanting his players to be in shape and he recently banned several comfort foods. Verratti will need to stay focused on minor details in order to remain on the managers good side and get his body prepared for the long season.
Tuchel’s system involves plenty of passing, which benefits Verratti’s style of play. There are a plethora of takes as to who benefits from the managerial change, but Verratti could see his game reach that consistent level with a manager like Tuchel. Although he generates a lot of passes, his key passes are relatively low in Ligue 1 competition, so expect this stat to trend upward this season.
It’s hard to believe that Verratti will enter his seventh season with PSG and even though he didn’t come up through the academy, it feels as though the Italian is a homegrown talent. With the new guidance of Tuchel, Verratti has the potential to leave a mark and become a club legend.