Scouting Network: Marco Verratti
Goalden Times brings you the stars of tomorrow – 20 years or under, promising players from across the world
Date of Birth: Nov 5, 1992
Market Value: €12mnWith Italy being inspired to a third ever European final by a 33-year-old Andrea Pirlo, the talk focussed on how Italy will do once the midfield metronome retires. Riccardo Montolivo, once called the heir apparent to Pirlo, has not lived upto his potential but here comes a 19-year-old who possibly can get into those shoes. Growing up in the Pescara youth, Marco Verratti was a marked man. He had joined Pescara youth team in 2008, and later that year, Milan came scouting. His intelligent passing and decision-making as well as dead ball skills reminded them of Pirlo immediately. Milan had offered to co-own the boy – then all of 16, but Pescara wanted to keep him. Four years on, Pirlo has moved on from Milan to Juventus and Pescara, after a 19-year absence had been promoted to Serie A under maverick Czech manager Zdenek Zeman. At the forefront of this revival was a 19-year-old Verratti, whom Zeman played in the role that defines Pirlo – deep-lying playmaker.
Verratti was a great success as a deep-lying playmaker – assisting nine goals in 31 matches for Pescara, one of them being the great retrieve and assist against Sampdoria. Verratti’s strength is his great technique and passing abilities. With his frail frame, he didn’t quite succeed in the attacking midfield role that he initially played. But Zeman pushed him back in the field and helped make his defensive play tight enough to play as the regista. The other notable feature is his deadball skills. Verratti is the designated corner specialist for Pescara. In one aspect thought he would need to emulate his idol, Pirlo a bit more. For a man of his talent and skills, he has seen a few red cards. One hopes that he would be able to control his play and emotions better as he grows.
Verratti made his debut for the Italy U-21 team in a February 2012 friendly against France and did not look out of place in it in a central midfield spot. In his third match, in the U21 team, he was played as a deep-lying defensive midfield role and he scored his first goal for the national team. But in a subsequent U21 European qualifier against Ireland, Verratti saw red in a heated match that finished 2-2. His skills and position and nature of play, makes him a suitable candidate – especially in the Italian league. All the top clubs – Milan, Juventus, Inter and even foreign ones – PSG and Man City among them, were thought to be courting Verratti. That he was included in Italy manager Cesare Prandelli’s 32-man roster for the European Cup, must have also weighed in his favour. On June 23, Pescara officially took him off the market. The official communiqué read, “This morning the top management of Pescara met with Marco Verratti and his agent. The player has reiterated his desire to remain with the club. The player, among other things, renewed his contract last year and is tied to the club for another four years.”
Fresh from the Oven: It is no surprise that the prized Verratti is all set to bid adieu to the biancoazzurri colours of Pescara and close in on a deal with the French giants Paris Saint-Germain.