According to Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu, Paris Saint-Germain are unwilling to enter negotiations over Marco Verratti.
Italian midfielder Verratti has been linked with the La Liga giants throughout the summer who are reportedly willing to offer €100 million for the 24-year-old.
However, PSG are under no pressure to sell. The midfielder signed a new five-year deal with the club only last year and they are far from suffering from any sort of financial strain.
Barcelona have no leverage and PSG have been stubborn with this sort of thing in the past, refusing to allow a 34-year-old Thiago Motta to join Atletico Madrid last summer. Club owner Nasser El-Khelaifi was displeased with the fact that Motta already agreed terms with the La Liga outfit and blocked the move.
So why are Barcelona then so headstrong in their attempts to recruit Verratti despite the obstacles?
Here are a few reasons.
HEIR TO INIESTA
Pep Guardiola built Barcelona’s golden era essentially around three players – Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta and Xavi Hernandez.
Messi is still plugging away for the Catalans, adapting his game ever so slightly to remain their main man but Xavi left the club two years ago and it appears as if Iniesta is will soon follow suit. Ivan Rakitic has somewhat filled the void Xavi left behind, albeit in a very different role and Neymar is already well placed to take over in attack once Messi’s powers wane.
That leaves Iniesta. Andre Gomes hasn’t been able to establish himself while Carles Alena needs more time before he can assume a role of that magnitude, which comes with so much responsibility.
At 24, and having spent five seasons at PSG, winning 15 honours in total, Verratti has the ability and the experience to fill the Spaniard’s shoes.
The PSG playmaker has grown into one of the best passers in the game. In fact, when compared to Barcelona’s current crop, he comes out well on top.
One may argue that Ligue 1 perhaps isn’t of the same standard as La Liga but going by their stats in the Champions League, Verratti managed 89.5 passes on average per game while Sergio Busquets comes closest for Barcelona with an average of 67.
For the Italy national team, Verratti has regularly been spoken of as the successor to Andrea Pirlo. That doesn’t happen unless you’re one of the best passers in the world. With the curtain coming down on Iniesta’s Barcelona career, Ernesto Valverde will need a similarly gifted playmaker in his stead.
ADDS BITE TO THE MIDFIELD
Apart from possessing a vast array of passes, Verratti is also known to get about the pitch. Ahead of Busquets, a midfield duo of Verratti and Rakitic may never compare to that of Xavi and Iniesta but it would boast different qualities as well.
Both midfielders would be far more mobile than their predecessors and capable of covering more ground. In Rakitic, Barcelona boast a genuine goal threat from midfield with the Croatian renowned for his forward runs and ability in the final third.
Verratti on the other hand, while not as gifted in front of goal, still chips in with a few while being far more competent in a tackle, adding a bit of tenacity to the midfield. In fact, the Italian averaged 3.1 tackles per game in Ligue 1 last season. Again, Busquets comes closest for Barcelona in La Liga with 2.5.