Marco Verratti believes PSG teammate Blaise Matuidi could be “the right man” for Juventus, who were smart to sell Paul Pogba.
The Italy international spoke to La Gazzetta dello Sport after missing Euro 2016 with an injury.
“Juve have reinforced more than anyone, as in every area they brought in the likes of Medhi Benatia, Miralem Pjanic and Gonzalo Higuain. They were already strong, now even more so, but in football nothing can be taken for granted, even if they are favourites.
“I saw Roma looking really organised in the Champions League play-off against Porto, playing really good football. Their Coach is also well-prepared, so I think they can cause Juve problems this season.”
Have the Bianconeri been weakened by the departure of Paul Pogba?
“Pogba is one of the three or four best midfielders in the world, but no club can say no to €110m, especially if they got him for free. Manchester United’s offer was too good to turn down for anyone, but Juve reinvested wisely in Higuain and Pjanic, who have a great future ahead of them.”
One of Verratti’s teammates, Matuidi, is the top target to replace Pogba, but PSG want €40m.
“He could be the right man for the job. He’s a world class midfielder who puts his heart into the game, is very strong physically, intelligent and always pushing forward.
“When a new Coach arrives, you always wonder if he’ll play, but at the end of the day he’s always first choice. This is why PSG want to hold on tight. He’s a friend, so I hope he stays.”
Was Verratti ever tempted to fill the Pogba void in Turin?
“There was never anything in it. Naturally every now and then there’s a call that might end up in the papers, but I think my contract renewal to 2021 was a clear signal: I want to continue growing here and win something important with PSG.
“I didn’t choose PSG in 2012 because I didn’t like Serie A. It would’ve been the ultimate for me, playing against people I had only watched on TV. For any Italian it’s still the best, but at the time I didn’t sense there was much faith in me.
“Besides, PSG had an important project and it was a real challenge. I have no regrets. Serie A is great for a young player if they put faith in you, not if Juve loan you out to Cesena, then Chievo, then who knows where.
“It might be better to move straight to a small club. But if a call comes from Arsenal, Barcelona or PSG, which is what happened to me, you have to take that chance because they sign you abroad only if they believe in you.
“It can go badly, of course, as I too struggled for playing time at the start, but I studied the star players during training.
“For two years PSG have won everything in France, so it’s difficult to do more. We’re missing something to be at the level of Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Barcelona, but we’re working on bridging that gap. You win the Champions League with the tiny details and a bit of luck.”
Zlatan Ibrahimovic moved to Manchester United and wanted Verratti to take on his Number 10 jersey, but Javier Pastore wears it instead.
“Ibrahimovic wanted me to wear it, but Pastore really cared about the 10. He’s a friend and it might give him an extra bit of confidence for an important season.
“Ibra passed on his winning mentality, helping the club and squad to grow. I am sorry he left, but it’s good that he has a new challenge. Now Edinson Cavani can play where he prefers to as well. Unai Emery wants us to play aggressive and quick football, which I really like, so I hope to adapt quickly.”
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