‘The one that got away’ is the tag commonly attached to a certain pint-sized Italian plying his trade in the French capital.
Marco Verratti is, when fully fit, theAzzurri‘s most accomplished player yet the 23-year-old has yet to make a single appearance in the Italian top-flight.
Small wonder the midfielder ascribes some of his success to the insanity of coach Zdenek Zeman. The Czech tactician oversaw Pescara’s promotion to Serie A in 2012 and was responsible for the attacking system that launched the career of the nimble Italian.
A burgeoning presence under Zeman’s predecessor Eusebio Di Francesco during his stint on the Delfini touchline, it was his shift into a deep-lying playmaking role that saw him claim the Bravo Award that campaign as the most promising under 21 player on the planet.
Antonio Di Battista, head of Pescara’s youth academy, marked him out as a predestinato — a player whose ability is evident from an early age. Quickly, it became clear that Verratti was bound for greener pastures.
Roma were alerted to his precocious ability but dawdled. Juventus, the club whom he idolised as a child, did not see fit. Napoli‘s interest was authentic but coach Walter Mazzarri vetoed the move. Paris Saint-Germain then swooped and secured his signature as they eyed the Ligue 1 crown.
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His arrival, however, was overshadowed by the unveiling of Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the French capital. Reporters gathered in the press room keen on hearing the A-list Swede and they would have been forgiven for scratching their heads when a baby-faced 5ft-something took to the stage.
Although Ibrahimovic’s importance to the PSG side has been measured in goals, Verratti’s has been more subtle. Carlo Ancelotti was gushing in his praise of the Italian but was reluctant to throw him into the starting XI as the Parisians established superiority in the Hexagon.
Laurent Blanc’s arrival in the summer of 2013, however, seemed to accelerate his development into one of the finest midfielders on the continent.
With his combative influence complementing the calming presence of compatriot Thiago Motta and the indefatigable Blaise Matuidi, PSG romped to a second successive Ligue 1 crown. So, too, was the Italian voted into the Ligue 1 Team of the Year and, to cap off a stellar season, was named as the division’s Young Player of the Year.
His no-holds-barred style of play has earned him plenty of admirers, chief among them former Barcelona and Spain midfielder Xavi, but the Italian is known to put his players and coaches through the ringer when he decides to embark on one of his many daredevil acts.
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He was scolded by Ancelotti after surrounding possession on countless occasions during a 2-0 Champions League success over Dynamo Kiev in 2012 before Blanc felt the urge to condemn his compulsive risk-taking after a clash with Monaco in 2014.
However, part of the midfielder’s attraction — aside from his gilded facial features — is his ability to play on the edge. Blessed with some of the quickest feet on the planet, Verratti’s boldness in possession allows PSG to play with the requisite urgency in midfield. Edinson Cavani was certainly a benefactor of the Italian’s intelligence last season when he profited on several occasions from Verratti’s quick free-kicks.
His Azzurri role, though, has yet to be defined. Often viewed as the heir apparent to Andrea Pirlo in the regista role, impressive displays under Antonio Conte have been fleeting due to the former Juventus coach’s reluctance to omit Pirlo, now plying his trade in Major League Soccer.
Verratti will be beyond devastated to be missing out on 2016’s European Championship, especially with the glittering tournament being held in his adopted home country, but he’ll be watching from afar with determination knowing that his mark on the international stage is still to come. And when it does come, it will be an impact to remember.
[ 此帖被love-roy在2016-05-25 00:53修改 ]