Marco Verratti says he can play any midfield role for Italy, as he hopes former Pescara teammates Ciro Immobile and Lorenzo Insigne join him in Brazil.
The playmaker is in Cesare Prandelli’s provisional squad named for the World Cup this summer and, with training beginning today, he has made clear his willingness for tactical flexibility, amid otherwise perceived first team competition with Andrea Pirlo.
“I am naturally a trequartista, whilst I became a regista with Zeman in a 4-3-3,” began Verratti in conversation this week with La Repubblica.
“With Ancelotti I was an interno [inside midfielder] in a 4-4-2. This year with Blanc, a mezz’ala [half-winger], and Thiago Motta a vertice basso [defensive midfield position].
“I have covered all the roles. I do not lack the desire to sacrifice myself.
“Will I go? I do not know, I can only give 100 per cent to have no regrets. The World Cup is the dream, throughout Italy and for the lucky few on the field.
“I will try to make it difficult for the Coach so as to be one of the lucky ones. Otherwise, I hope that Ciro Immobile and Lorenzo Insigne can go.”
Verratti developed alongside Immobile and Insigne during a memorable 2011-12 Serie B promotion campaign at Zdenek Zeman’s Pescara.
“As they say, it is a fairy tale. None of us would have imagined this. There remains a sincere friendship, which is rare in football.
“And my dog is named Ciro? But have you seen Immobile? That head? It’s huge, like that of my English bulldog. They are identical.
“I knew from the beginning that he would be successful - Ciro makes the most of it when he feels the confidence of all, and this enthusiasm is unstoppable.
“He can be a deadly weapon in Brazil. And to think that Zeman slaughtered him…
“How so? He would always score a couple of goals, but then the Coach would not praise him - he would remind him of all that he had done wrong.
“‘Immobile, you are the bane of this team’, had become a catchphrase. And we would laugh. He did not want to let go his grip.”
Verratti was asked if he preferred the tiki-taka football of Pep Guardiola or the more physical approach of Diego Simeone.
“In certain games in Europe it is important not to concede a goal. But I like purposeful football, we have to entertain people.
“Prandelli has enormous merit in this - he has changed the way people think of Italy. In training he asks us to have a constructive mentality. It is a revolution.
“Italy’s Code of Ethics? The Coach has spoken clearly with the group, explained to us that we must be an example and that on each occasion he will decide.
“We have accepted this, the group makes no issue on individual choices.”
PSG were eliminated at the quarter-final stage of the Champions League this season.
“The Champions League is not a programme, you win - it is no coincidence that no one has managed to win twice in a row.
“Perhaps we do not have the necessary experience, but also the luck, like if you concede a goal minutes from time against Chelsea. We will try again, more determined.
“And Juventus’ struggles in Europe? The judgements on the Bianconeri have been too severe. In Copenhagen, their goalkeeper played phenomenally, in Istanbul on the ice they have conceded a goal with the first shot.
“Juve could be among the top eight, they played on a par with Real Madrid.
“How is the Azzurri viewed from Paris? The national team is always respected and feared, Serie A less so. Certain labels are not easily removed - violence, racism, now the bananas.
“The Coppa Italia Final was televised in France - do you know how many people sent me text messages to try to understand what was going on?
“And how do I explain that I do not know if they will play and that they shot a fan?”