Throughout the Qatar Sports Investments era, Paris Saint-Germain signed high-profile players, such as Lionel Messi, Neymar Jr., Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and Thiago Silva. However, there was one young start player who flew under the radar and blossomed into a superstar while in the French capital.
Marco Verratti joined PSG in 2012 for €10 million from Pescara. At the time, it was a signing that didn’t make many headlines, but over the years, Verratti developed into one of the best midfielders in Europe.
Before his surprise transfer to Al-Arabi SC in 2023, Verratti made 416 appearances for PSG and recorded 11 goals and 61 assists. He was known for his tackling and technical ability. Few were better in tight spaces with the ball, and he was the midfield maestro who enabled PSG to go from defense to offense.
After a win over Manchester City in a 2021 UEFA Champions League clash, Pep Guardiola had this to say about Verratti:
“I’m in love! He’s an exceptional player because he is under pressure and he has the calm to have one extra touch and in that moment he creates extra passes behind our midfield players. I know the character and personality that he has and he did it again. I am happy he’s back from his injury and yeah, exceptional player.”
As good as Verratti was a times for PSG, he did have his faults that I believe ultimately led to his departure. While he was an exceptional ball-winner, Verratti wasn’t always clean with his tackles and routinely picked up yellow card cautions to the point where it became a joke amongst fans. From arguing with officials to silly fouls, Verratti would often put his teammates in a bad position. His lifestyle was also a subject of concern. The biggest controversy came when he was photographed smoking a cigarette, he probably should have tried nic pouches instead. Here’s what Verratti had to say about criticism about his lifestyle:
“It’s the way I am. Football has always been a game for me, but I have a life. Things I enjoyed where going to the restaurant, and drinking a glass of wine when there was no training. There are players that hide it, but I have also fronted up, in my life, as well as on the pitch. I think people like me for that; they see that I’m normal.”
Whether he was bossing the midfield, or partying late night, Verratti will be remembered long after he hands up his boots. But, is he a top 10 player in QSI history? Absolutely.
Kylian Mbappé is certainly at the top of the list. Other players on my list include Neymar, Angel Di Maria, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Thiago Silva, Marquinhos, Thiago Motta, and Maxwell.
You can’t underestimate the contributions of Verratti, especially after Motta departed the club. There was a massive hole in PSG’s midfield and the Italy international filled it admirably. His injury history certainly hampered his ability to reach his full potential, but like Guardiola said, he’s an exceptional player.
Verratti’s career in the French capital concluded with 9 Ligue 1 titles, six Coupe de France titles, and six Coupe de la Ligue titles. With that much silverware, he has to be one of the 10 best players in PSG’s QSI era.