To many, it came as no surprise when French powerhouse Paris Saint-Germain came knocking on the door, signalling their intent in poaching a then 19-year-old Marco Verratti from Pescara. Even with an impressive promotion campaign with the Delfini under his belt, many still questioned the motives of both the Parisians and player after the transfer was made official. Why were PSG keen on signing a player who had never played top-flight football before?
Fast forward two years, and it seems that the midfielder has lived up to the hype that has surrounded him since a tender age. And, having established himself as a crucial player in Laurent Blanc's set-up, Verratti must finally be given the chance to shine on the international stage, with no better place to prove his credentials than at the World Cup.
Throughout the entirety of this week’s friendly defeat to Spain, Italy appeared to lack creativity and rarely threatened the Spanish goal, perhaps due to the absence from the starting XI of Andrea Pirlo. Those struggles begged the question: Why didn’t Verratti have his opportunity?
For the 21-year-old, participating in the match would've been a learning curve for a player who remains relatively inexperienced on the international stage. In addition, the chance to take to the field against arguably one of the best midfield set-ups in the world would've been an indicator as to how good he really is.
As it stands, PSG boasts arguably one of the best midfields in the Europe, so it seems baffling for Cesare Prandelli to have omitted the youngster entirely this midweek. This season, the French capital outfit have had an average share of approximately 60 per cent possession and boast of an 89 per cent passing completion rate - compelling stats which tell the story of what has been an emphatic season this far for the club. On an individual level, Verratti has contributed to that dominance with four assists, created 16 chances and boasts of a 91 per cent pass accuracy.
Under Ancelotti, Verratti was heavily criticised for taking his time on the ball. However, Blanc has helped him to develop into an almost Xavi Hernandez-esque player, and his ability to retain but also make use of possession is vital to PSG’s tactics. He has developed to the point where he has eclipsed Thiago Motta in terms of vitality. However, for Prandelli, it seems that the decision to select Verratti isn't as simple as it seems.
Whilst having introduced youngsters to his squad during his four years so far as CT, Prandelli has shown a hesitancy in selecting juniors ahead of their more experienced counterparts in the midfield department. Furthermore, the inclusion of Verratti would mean dropping one of the more established internationals in Daniele De Rossi, Andrea Pirlo, Riccardo Montolivo and Claudio Marchisio.
Verratti himself has suggested that he may not be getting the attention he might otherwise deserve as he continues to ply his trade in France, recently commenting: “Perhaps I'm being punished a bit because I ply my trade in France.”
Having already earned the respect of the French for his toils, it's time that the Italians too become aware of what Marco Verratti has to offer. The youngster must be given the chance to go Brazil - his omission could be detrimental to the Azzurri.