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Messi, Mbappe and Neymar make headlines, but Verratti is the linchpin that makes PSG tick

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Everyone may be talking about Lionel Messi’s first goal for Paris Saint-Germain in their Champions League clash with Manchester City on Tuesday night. But it was Marco Verratti’s performance that was essential to the team’s success.

Verratti has long been undervalued and overshadowed by big names and this year has been no different. The headlines around the world are fixated on PSG’s new front three, made up of Messi, Neymar and French superstar Kylian Mbappe.

But if you’ve seen this week’s performance at the Parc de Princes, you’ve witnessed Verratti’s midfield masterclass. He played a pivotal role in the French side’s 2-0 win over City and it’s safe to say he can no longer be ignored.

Marco Verratti’s contribution this week was essential to PSG’s success against Manchester City

Verratti’s performance even captured the heart of Pep Guardiola, who confessed after the game that he loved the playmaker. The Manchester City manager also called Verratti “exceptional” and explained how PSG could “count on him” for their “building game”.

He said, ‘I am in love. He is an exceptional player. If he is under pressure, he can play the extra pass. I know of his character, his personality. I’m glad he’s back from injury. You can always count on him for build-up play. We were a bit soft against him in the first half.’

Ashley Young went one step further, urging Manchester’s red half, his old club United, to sign the 28-year-old.

“The Michael Carrick type has been missing for years. They didn’t go out and replace Michael Carrick,” Young – now at Aston Villa – told BBC Radio Five Live.

“Don’t get me wrong – Fred and McTominay are good players, but I don’t think there is a Michael Carrick around.

“I was watching the PSG v City game yesterday and I think Marco Verratti is the closest and no one has gone out to test the water to try and capture him. I think he would be an incredible asset to Manchester United.”

However, everyone is currently talking about Lionel Messi's first goal for Paris Saint-Germain

However, everyone is currently talking about Lionel Messi’s first goal for Paris Saint-Germain

Messi raced through City defence, was sacked for Kylian Mbappé before hitting the top corner

Messi raced through City defence, was sacked for Kylian Mbappé before hitting the top corner

Meanwhile, French news channel L’Equipe said Verratti demonstrated “stunning creativity” and “made the Mancunians sick” with his performance.

They wrote: ‘It is one of the best boosters in the world. He is a player with dazzling creativity.

Not playing since August 29 (due to a knee injury) the Italian was perfectly correct in his positioning and in his ability to carry the ball.

“He made the Mancunians sick. He almost scored at the end and got a standing ovation from the crowd.’

Hence, it is clear to see that Verratti has become one of the key players of PSG’s trophy-laden era after signing for the club in 2012. During his time in Paris, he has also established himself as one of Europe’s greatest midfielders.

From humble beginnings, Verratti helped Italy’s Pescara to the top flight for the first time in two decades when he began his professional career. He then turned down the chance to join AC Milan in order to remain loyal to his youth club.

Nevertheless, the deep-set playmaker eventually parted ways with the Italian side after attracting the attention of Paris Saint-Germain. However, his arrival at the Parc de Princes was somewhat overshadowed by the announcement that Zlatan Ibrahimovic would be joining the club that same day.

Verratti registered a 93 percent pass accuracy compared to Messi .'s 89 percent

Verratti registered a 93 percent pass accuracy compared to Messi .’s 89 percent

Meanwhile, Neymar registered 82 percent and the French star registered Mbappes 78 percent

Meanwhile, Neymar registered 82 percent and the French star registered Mbappes 78 percent

It comes as no surprise that the signing of a 19-year-old midfielder was lost for £8.6million when the club invested in Argentine forward Ezequiel Lavezzi, Brazilian central defender Thiago Silva and Swedish striker Ibrahimovic during the same transfer window.

However, the youngster – who had been compared to Andrea Pirlo by his former PSG boss Carlo Ancelotti – did nothing but prove his worth after making his league debut for the French side in a Ligue 1 away game against Lille.

Verratti is not often one to turn heads on the pitch, but he has become part of the PSG fixture. He has also established himself as one of the best midfielders in the game thanks to his performances for the French side.

His ability to distribute the ball while unlocking his opponents’ defenses has made him an underrated superstar. The Italy international can pass with both feet and can guide the ball through the tightest of spaces to set his teammates on an exciting attack.

Verratti has subsequently been described as ‘the best passer by a footballer since Xavi’. The former Barcelona maestro even praised the PSG player himself, saying: “There are few midfielders better than Verratti.”

He doubled Messi's number of dribbling attempts in the Champions League group match

He doubled Messi’s number of dribbling attempts in the Champions League group match

Verratti also registered an 83 percent success rate, compared to Messi .'s only 33 percent

Verratti also registered an 83 percent success rate, compared to Messi .’s only 33 percent

In the 2018-2019 season, Verratti registered a passing accuracy of 91 percent. He was also involved in 1.21 goals per game and would provide 0.2 assists.

The midfielder also averaged 1.77 dribbles per 90 minutes and made 4.71 tackles per game.

Verratti’s performance against Manchester City on Tuesday night proved to be another indicator of his midfield dominance. Verratti registered a shot accuracy of 93 percent, compared to Messi’s 89 percent, Neymar’s 82 percent and Mbappe’s 78 percent.

Verratti also outperformed Messi in terms of his ball carrying. He doubled Messi’s dribbling attempts and achieved an 83 percent success rate, compared to Messi’s only 33 percent.

Verratti’s offensive record during Tuesday’s Champions League clash is enough to justify his title as one of the best midfielders in the world, but his defensive record just adds to his credentials.

However, he is undervalued and overshadowed by big names like Ibrahimovic

However, he is undervalued and overshadowed by big names like Ibrahimovic

The Italian playmaker completed more interceptions than Messi, Neymar and Mbappe combined, despite playing 12 minutes less than his counterparts.

Such statistics draw a direct comparison to his domestic game. Verratti has maintained his passing accuracy throughout both the 2019-2020 and 2021-2022 seasons. As it stands, he accurately completes 82 percent of his passes, compared to Messi’s 63 percent, Neymar’s 52 percent and Mbappe’s 46 percent.

He also makes 3.2 tackles per 90 minutes with Paris Saint-Germain… compared to Messi’s 0.6, Neymar’s 0.97 and Mbappe’s 0.29.

So what’s the catch? Well, there isn’t one in particular. The only downside to Verratti’s game comes from his height. Standing at just 5ft 5in he struggles to win his dogfights.

Although, the arrival of Messi (who is also standing at 5ft 5in) proves that you don’t have to be the tallest player to have the biggest impact on the pitch – didn’t you see the Argentinian’s screamer against Manchester City on Tuesday night?

Now he is overshadowed by PSG's new frontline of Messi, Mbappe and Neymar

Now he is overshadowed by PSG’s new frontline of Messi, Mbappe and Neymar

Ashley Young has now urged his old side Manchester United to break the bench for Verratti

Ashley Young has now urged his old side Manchester United to break the bench for Verratti

The difference is that players like Messi have developed a name for themselves. He is commonly referred to as the GOAT. He takes on Cristiano Ronaldo in record-breaking fights and fans bicker over who should be the best footballer on earth.

Meanwhile, at the age of 18, Mbappe became the most expensive player in the sport, after coming to France from Monaco in the summer of 2017. The following year, he starred in France’s World Cup success. Since then, he has established himself as one of football’s elite players, drawing comparisons to both Messi and Ronaldo.

Moreover, Neymar is one of the most talked-about footballers of this generation. Messi even called him “one of the best in the world” when he spoke of the Brazilian’s departure from Barcelona.

That’s why it’s hard for Verratti’s real worth to be recognized amid the noise around his teammates. But these players wouldn’t be the stars they are today without Verratti’s steady supply of world-class balls – and it wouldn’t be a surprise if a Premier League side were to break the bank for him very quickly.

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