Wednesday March 7 2018
Has Verratti already peaked?

The years go by and Marco Verratti hasn’t matured, developed or learned, writes Daryl Hammond. Is this the best he’ll ever be?

It seems an age ago since Marco Verratti was hailed for his domineering performance against Chelsea in the Champions League. Yet that was only in 2015. Xavi had effectively crowned the Italian his heir at Barcelona, and it merely seemed a question of when he would make the move to another big club, and for how much.

Yet three years on and millions spent later, Paris Saint-Germain are in no better a place in Europe and Verratti’s development has similarly stunted.

His performance against Real Madrid typified what has been a growing trend of the ineffectiveness and ill-discipline in big games for the midfielder. Booked for a typically overzealous tackle just 20 minutes into the affair, he then earned a cheap red card for dissent to make his side's herculean task now an impossible one.

Seemingly every time these important games come around, he loses his composure and his head. Three of PSG’s last four red cards in the Champions League have been shown to the Italian.

Now 25 years old, with bounds of European and international experience, Verratti should be running games like this – especially with Luka Modric and Toni Kroos not starting.

The diminutive midfielder looked head and shoulders above the rest in the first leg against Barcelona last season, but put in an equally anaemic performance in the return leg.

In a star-studded side, it can be difficult to get your foot on the ball as much. PSG under Unai Emery now seem to rely on the talents of individuals, as opposed to cohesive offensive football. And no doubt he is not being challenged by teams every week with the same rigour as he would if he were in Italy or England. But things have hardly been better on the international scene either.

When the Azzurri played Spain in World Cup qualifying earlier, Verratti was thoroughly embarrassed by Isco in a 3-0 loss. In the play-offs against an unfancied Sweden side, he couldn’t influence the game in any way, with Giorgio Chiellini making twice as many passes. He also foolishly got himself suspended for the second leg, where creativity was in short supply for the Italians.

While many can (somewhat justifiably) point to then-manager Giampiero Ventura as the cause for fault, this microcosm of games is a valid reflection of his Italy career, one of few, if any noteworthy performances.

Verratti doesn’t have the same stock in Italy as he does in France, and poor performances for the national team have led to criticism from former players like Ciccio Graziani, who said “I don’t think he is worth even €50m.” Perhaps the real Ballon d'Or winner here is agent Mino Raiola, who continues to maintain the hype over a player who simply hasn't warranted it and earned more and more lucrative contracts.

The midfielder makes an easy target for PSG and Azzurri fans alike, but was not the only reason his side lost 5-2 over both legs. In fact, before he was dismissed, he was arguably their best performing player (which likely says more about his teammates’ performance than his).

But he must deal with this mental malaise which seems to affect him in crucial ties. Carlo Ancelotti reportedly branded the midfielder an ‘imbecile’ after he received his first red card in French Football, and Laurent Blanc didn’t see the funny side of his ill-disciplined performances either. Years on this shouldn’t be a problem for Emery, but it is.

On his day he can be a game changer, which is why he to this day still courts attention from the likes of Barcelona, but those days should have been yesterday at the Parc de Prince and three weeks ago at the Bernabeu. We know he has the talent. Whether he can fully mature to unlock that potential when it matters is another question.

Have your say...
I don't agree with the main article and the comments.Marco is a very good player but he needs to improve such as when tackling not to go down and to have a go in trying to score.He should be told to be quiet and let the Captain do the talking.It is common knowledge that once the ref makes a decision,he will not change so the approach should be more of an observation rather than an aggressive one.He needs to improve his attitude for Italy and along with Jorginho he will do very well.He has talent
on the 7th March, 2018 at 1:39pm
You cant approach a ref like that. Cant really complain about the red card tbh.yes he probably has peaked.
on the 7th March, 2018 at 1:07pm
Spain: they had 6 in midfield with no CF, we played 424 away, and he got dominated, really his fault? did you watch the game?

Sweden? he picked up a yellow after winning the ball. Poor decision from the referee.

Last night, he had Rabiot & Motta who were shocking. What can you do around those when you are playing Real. Additionally he got no protection from the referee, who allowed Kovacic to escape a second yellow when going through PSG player.

Is Verratti perfect? no, but at 25 peaked? lol
on the 7th March, 2018 at 11:35am
He was outstanding at Pescara & during his first few years at PSG, but he has stagnated in recent seasons. Numerous niggling injuries haven't helped. Neither has his infantile attitude & poor disciplinary record. I still believe that he has what it takes to be a great player. A move to a stronger league, playing under the likes of Ancelotti could make this happen. For Italy though, Jorginho has to be the first name on the team sheet as the deep lying conductor.
on the 7th March, 2018 at 10:55am
a bit of a exaggeration verratti has had 8 red cards in his entire career to date hardly evidence of the reckless immature player which the article seems to describe. As for peaking that is debatable considering the style he plays in and his position it depends on what he adds to his game. If you were to use xavi as a comparison we really didn't see what xavi could really deliver as a players until his late 20s. It could be argued if he wants to develop his game it is time for him to move on.
on the 7th March, 2018 at 10:50am
I've said it on multiple occasions throughout his time in Paris, he is arguably one of the most overrated players there has ever been. Leaving for money instead of having the opportunity to play in Serie A in an environment where he could become a tactically better footballer was and will be his biggest mistake. Arguably the worst tackler in world football. Simply a liability.
on the 7th March, 2018 at 10:46am
Verratti looked imperious for 20m then surprise surprise gets a booking. Ticking time bomb at that point.
PSG is a prison made of gold. The players are coddled, paid far too much, live the "star" instagram lifestyle, and are not regularly tested and pushed to the limit in Ligue 1.
I knew RM would knock these posers out.
Verratti wanted Barcelona last summer but PSG blocked it. Hopefully, he goes elsewhere and discovers what it really means to be a top player for a top club.
on the 7th March, 2018 at 10:38am
He is mentally pathetic. Italy should stop dreaming of him. I would prefer Jorginho, or even Bonaventura.
on the 7th March, 2018 at 10:20am

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