Three reasons why Barcelona need PSG pass master Marco Verratti

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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.

PASS MASTER

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.

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Manchester United's 11 biggest transactions as Romelu Lukaku nears £75m move from Everton

Manchester United are closing in on Everton striker Romelu Lukaku in a deal which could be worth a potential world-record £90million, with a £75m fee supplemented by add-ons.

Here's a look at the Old Trafford club's biggest buys and sales to date.

BOUGHT: PAUL POGBA (From Juventus, £89m, 2016)

A world-record deal took the France international back to his former club but he is yet to reproduce the form he showed at Juventus. SOLD: CRISTIANO RONALDO (To Real Madrid, £80m, 2009) Ronaldo's sale to Real smashed the transfer record eight years ago. However, with Ronaldo having helped the Spaniards win the Champions League three times and two league titles - in addition to millions of shirt sales - Real more than got their money's worth. Ronaldo trophies Ronaldo trophies BOUGHT: ANGEL DI MARIA (From Real Madrid, £59.7m, 2014) A British-record transfer at the time, as United backed new manager Louis van Gaal with cash, but the Argentina international failed to live up to lofty expectations. BOUGHT: ANTHONY MARTIAL (From Monaco, £58.8m, 2015) Full amount will only be due if all add-ons above the initial £36m up-front fee are met but that did not stop then manager Van Gaal describing the sum as "ridiculous". Martial made an immediate impact, finishing his first season as top scorer, but has since slipped down the pecking order under Jose Mourinho. SOLD: ANGEL DI MARIA (To Paris St Germain, £44.3m 2015) Just a year after joining Di Maria was on his way as a promising start to his Old Trafford career faltered to the extent he did not start a game between early March and the final match of the season, in which he got injured. BOUGHT: JUAN MATA (From Chelsea, £37.1m, 2014) The Spain international was a January arrival signed to boost a struggling David Moyes in his maiden season in charge, having succeeded Sir Alex Ferguson. Has proved to be a successful buy. BOUGHT: DIMITAR BERBATOV (From Tottenham, £30.75m, 2008) Scored 56 goals in 149 appearances but had an up-and-down time at Old Trafford, winning the league twice. BOUGHT: VICTOR LINDELOF (From Benfica, £30.7m, 2017) Jose Mourinho followed up his interest in January by securing the services of the Sweden international at the end of last season to bolster a weakness in central defence. BOUGHT: ERIC BAILLY (From Villarreal, £30m, 2016) Bailly arrived a year ago and has settled well and looks set to be a long-term fixture at centre-back. BOUGHT: RIO FERDINAND (From Leeds, £30m, 2002) Arrived at Old Trafford in a ground-breaking move, becoming the most expensive British footballer at the time and the world's most expensive defender. Became a pivotal member of Ferguson's dominant side and 12 years brought six championship titles and a Champions League win. BOUGHT: WAYNE ROONEY (From Everton, £30m, 2004) United paid what was then a record sum for a teenager to sign Rooney, but he repaid the investment in spades and has gone on to become the club's record goalscorer. However, his first-team opportunities receded last season and a return to Everton is now a possibility. Provided by Press Association

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Manchester United chase James Rodriguez, Arsenal make €45m Lemar bid

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With the transfer window now officially open from July 1, the frenetic nature of speculation is only going to increase.

Rumours are starting to gather pace and we take a look at the latest stories doing the rounds in the media.

Will any of the following deals happen?

Get in touch with your thoughts on Twitter and via Facebook.

JAMES RODRIGUEZ

Manchester United have stepped up discussions over the signing of James Rodriguez this summer, in yet another move that involves Real Madrid.

The Independent reports that Jose Mourinho had instructed executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward this week to move on from striker target Alvaro Morata and on to Everton’s Romelu Lukaku after growing impatient with the Spanish club’s refusal to budge from their €90m asking price.

RATING: 5/10

SPORT360 VERDICT

James is one of the high-profile players consistently linked to United this summer without a deal really being in sight. A bit like Romelu Lukaku until Thursday, to be fair. Like the Belgian, it’s possible that he could emerge as a virtually done deal for Jose Mourinho’s side as well.

However, the relationship between Real Madrid and United appears increasingly strained with latest talks over David de Gea and more recently Alvaro Morata only compounding the discontent between both parties. There’s also a question of where the Colombian would fit in if he arrived at Old Trafford.

James Rodriguez

James Rodriguez

ALEXIS SANCHEZ

Inter Milan want to make Arsenal forward Alexis Sanchez, 28, the “poster boy” for the club’s new era.

The report, from Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport, details how Suning are ready to move for the 28-year-old after Bayern Munich pulled out of the race.

RATING: 1/10

SPORT360 VERDICT

There’s always the slightest possibility but a move to Inter would make little sense for Sanchez. If his price is a little too steep for Bayer Munich and Arsenal refuse to sell to their Premier League rivals, then his best course of action would be to see out contract and leave on a free transfer next summer.

Alexis Sanchez

Alexis Sanchez

THOMAS LEMAR

Arsenal have made an improved €45 million offer for Thomas Lemar, but Monaco are expected to reject the latest bid for the winger according to L’Equipe.

After bringing in Alexandre Lacazette from Lyon, the Gunners are set to launch a bid to land another of Ligue 1’s finest.

RATING: 6/10

SPORT360 VERDICT

Arsenal are actively seeking a replacement for Sanchez with the Chilean’s departure seemingly inevitable. Lemar would be a fine buy and would suit Arsenal’s style. Their pursuit of the Frenchman could also explain the lack of progress on the Riyad Mahrez front.

The biggest stumbling however is that Monaco would obviously prefer not lose half their team in one summer. Bernardo Silva has already left for Manchester City while Benjamin Mendy, Fabinho, Kylian Mbappe and Tiemoue Bakayoko are all subjects of huge interest from other clubs.

Thomas Lemar

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