The 2017 summer transfer window was certainly one of the more drama-filled ones in years. Neymar’s move to Paris Saint-Germain was the headline transfer from that window, but Barcelona also came close to pulling off one blockbuster deal beforehand.
In need of a revamped midfield, Barcelona scoured the transfer market and zoned in on PSG midfielder Marco Verratti.
Reports surfaced that Verratti wanted a move away from PSG and showed a strong interest in joining Barca. But with PSG’s reluctance in letting him go, Verratti stayed put in the end.
As Donato Di Campli, Verratti’s former agent, detailed to L’Equipe, there was at one point a real sense of urgency in pushing the midfielder to Barca.
“When Barça contacts me, I ask Marco what we’re doing,” Di Campli said. “PSG was not great at the time, I said to Marco: ‘Are we going or are we staying?’ He said ‘OK, let’s try another experiment’.
“PSG asked him to say he was really happy in Paris in a video. Marco really wanted to go to Barcelona. They were offering a lot of money, but it wasn’t even that. Playing with Messi, becoming champion, which is a different thing to be a great player.
“PSG are one of the biggest clubs in the world, but they play in a weak championship. I told Marco that if he wanted to become a champion, he had to change tune.”
While Verratti had a serious interest in a move to Barca, there was one pending factor at the time that convinced him to stay at PSG.
“It’s not against PSG, but it is easier to do it at Bayern, Barça or Real,” Di Campli said. “I was an employee of Marco, I advised him what seemed to be the best. But the choice was his.
“When he realized that it was not possible, he was afraid. He was afraid that he would be blocked without playing. He returned to Paris for the recovery, they told him: ‘We are going to take Neymar, we are going to extend you, but you throw your agent’.
“I was forcing to go to the breakup, waging war to transfer him to Barcelona, but he backed off. I left with a Kalashnikov and in the end I finished with a pistol.”
Verratti is just coming off of a grand showing against Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 first leg. This performance has brought many to reflect on this what-if transfer and just how different Barca and PSG’s midfield setups would be now had it came to fruition.
Want more PSG? Visit the PSG Talk Podcast Network page and subscribe to PSG Talking, The 1970, and 24th & Parc.