MARCO VERRATTI BIOGRAPHY:
Marco VerrattI is an Italian professional footballer who plays as a central midfielder for Ligue 1 club Paris Saint-Germain and the Italy national team. A creative, hard-working, and technically gifted playmaker, Verratti began his career with Italian club Pescara in 2008, where he soon rose to prominence as one of the best young midfielders in Europe, helping the team to win the 2011–12 Serie B title, and winning the 2012 Bravo Award. His playing style drew comparisons with Andrea Pirlo, due to his passing ability, vision, and control, as well as his similar transition from the role of trequartista to that of a regista. In July 2012, he transferred to French side Paris Saint-Germain, where he won seven Ligue 1 titles from 2013 to 2020, among other domestic and individual trophies. At international level, Verratti represented the Italy under-21 football team at the 2013 UEFA European Under-21 Championship, winning a runners-up medal, and being named to the all-star squad for the tournament. At senior level, he made his Italy debut in 2012, and represented his country at the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
Verratti was born in Pescara, and grew up in L’Aquila. As a child, he supported Juventus and idolised Alessandro Del Piero, the team’s Italian international offensive playmaker. Verratti’s talent was noticed at an early age, and he was made offers to join the youth academies of Atalanta and Internazionale, but joined his local club Pescara for €5,000. After an impressive performance for Pescara’s under-16 team against A.C. Milan, the Lombardy club offered €300,000 to sign the midfielder, but Verratti decided to remain at Pescara.
The first youth team Verratti was affiliated with was that of Manoppello, a historic team of Pescara, that in 2001 merged with the newly born Manoppello Arabona. He remained there until 2006 when he entered the youth of Pescara. Verratti made his first team debut in the 2008–09 season at the age of 15 years and 9 months. In the 2009–10 season, he appeared more regularly for Pescara, and since then became a key player in the first team. His performances generated national media coverage as a potential star of the future and Italian international. With Zdeněk Zeman as manager, Verratti excelled as a deep-lying playmaker in a Pescara team which won the 2011–12 Serie B title playing “the best football in Italy”, earning promotion to Serie A the following season. After helping Pescara to promotion to Serie A, Verratti received the 2012 Bravo Award for the best player under the age of 21 in Europe, and was reportedly wanted by Napoli, Roma and Juventus, as well as Carlo Ancelotti’s Paris Saint-Germain. At the 2012 AIC Gran Gala del Calcio, he was elected the best player of the 2011–12 Serie B season, along with former Pescara teammates Ciro Immobile and Lorenzo Insigne.
2012–13: Debut season
Verratti with Paris Saint-Germain in March 2013.
On 18 July 2012, Verratti signed a five-year contract with Paris Saint-Germain in Ligue 1. On 2 September 2012, Verratti made his competitive debut for PSG in an away Ligue 1 match against Lille. Twelve days later, he assisted Javier Pastore’s opening goal in his first competitive appearance at the Parc des Princes, a 2–0 Ligue 1 defeat of Toulouse. On 18 September 2012, he made his UEFA Champions League debut in a 4–1 Group A defeat of Dynamo Kyiv. He ended his first season in the French capital by winning the 2012–13 Ligue 1 title. On 20 August 2013, Verratti signed a one-year extension to his contract with PSG, keeping him at the club until 2018.
2013–14: Individual awards
Verratti’s second season with PSG was even more successful than the first as the team retained its Ligue 1 title and won the Coupe de la Ligue and the 2013 Trophée des Champions. Verratti was named as the Ligue 1 Young Player of the Year and included in the Ligue 1 Team of the Year for 2013–14.
2014–2017: First goals and contract extension
On 30 September 2014, Verratti scored his first competitive goal for PSG, a header in a 3–2 home win over Barcelona in the group stage of the Champions League. On 18 January 2015, Verratti scored his first goal in Ligue 1, in a 4–2 home win over Evian. In August 2016, Verratti signed a 3-year extension to his contract, keeping him at the club until 2021.
2017–2019: European and domestic performances
On 6 March 2018, Verratti was sent off after acquiring a second yellow card in the second leg of the Champions League Round of 16 fixture against the eventual champions Real Madrid. Real Madrid went on to win the game 2–1 and eliminated PSG with an aggregate score of 5–2.
On 3 April 2019, Verratti scored the opening goal from a Kylian Mbappé assist in a 3–0 home win over Nantes in the Coupe de France semi-finals, which allowed PSG to advance to the final of the competition; during the same match, he also provided an assist for his team’s final goal, which was scored by Dani Alves. This goal was Verratti’s first of the 2018–19 season for PSG, and also his first goal ever in the competition.
2019–20: Domestic treble and European final
Following PSG’s 2–1 victory over Rennes in the 2019 Trophée des Champions on 3 August, Verratti became the player with the most titles with the club, with 22 trophies in total (six Ligue 1 titles, four Coupe de France titles, five Coupe de la Ligue titles, and seven Trophée des Champions titles). In October, he signed a three–year contract extension with the club, which would tie him to PSG until June 2024. On 12 January 2020, Verratti made his 300th appearance for PSG in a 3–3 home draw against Monaco in Ligue 1. On 18 February, he became the club’s all-time appearance holder in the Champions League, when he made his 58th appearance in the competition in a 2–1 away loss in the first leg of their round of 16 draw against Borussia Dortmund, overtaking the previous record holder Paul Le Guen at 57. In April, PSG were assigned the 2019–20 Ligue 1 title after the season was ended prematurely due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic; at the time of the League’s suspension, PSG were in first place, with a twelve–point lead over second–placed Marseille. This was Verratti’s record seventh Ligue 1 title with the club, which saw him equal the all–time individual record of most Ligue 1 title victories, along with his club teammate Thiago Silva, which was jointly held by Hervé Revelli and Jean-Michel Larqué of Saint-Étienne, as well as Grégory Coupet, Juninho and Sidney Govou of Lyon. PSG went on to win a domestic treble, but lost out in the Champions League final 1–0 to Bayern Munich on 23 August; Verratti made a substitute appearance during the match.
2020–21: Injury and new season
In October 2020, Verratti suffered a quadriceps injury while playing for Italy. He made his return to play as a substitute in a 1–0 UEFA Champions League win against RB Leipzig on 24 November 2020.
The uncapped Verratti was included into Cesare Prandelli’s preliminary 32-man Italy squad for UEFA Euro 2012, being one of only two Serie B players (the other being Torino’s Angelo Ogbonna) to be part of it. He was subsequently cut from the squad on 28 May 2012. On 15 August 2012, Verratti made his debut with the Italian senior team in a 2–1 friendly loss against England held in Bern. He subsequently made his first competitive appearance in 2014 FIFA World Cup qualification, appearing as a second-half substitute for Emanuele Giaccherini in a 2–2 draw against Bulgaria on 7 September. On 6 February 2013, Verratti scored his first international goal in a friendly against the Netherlands in Amsterdam, a 91st-minute equalizer that made the final score 1–1. He took part with the Italy U-21 side at the 2013 UEFA European Under-21 Championship, where the Azzurrini finished as runner-up to Spain. His performances saw him included in UEFA’s all-star squad for the tournament. On 1 June 2014, Verratti was selected in Italy’s 23-man squad for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. In Italy’s opening match of the tournament, he made his first competitive start for the Azzurri on the left side of a midfield diamond with Juventus players Andrea Pirlo and Claudio Marchisio and Roma vice-captain Daniele De Rossi in his team’s opening game of the tournament, a 2–1 victory over England in Manaus. During the match, he was involved in Marchisio’s opening goal; after receiving Antonio Candreva’s short corner, he passed the ball out wide towards Pirlo, who drew his marker with him. Pirlo let the ball pass in between his legs to Marchisio, leaving him with space to score with a low drive from outside the area. However, Verratti did not appear in Italy’s second group match, a 1–0 defeat against Costa Rica; he started in Italy’s final group match against Uruguay, which also ended in a 1–0 loss, and as a result, Italy were eliminated in the first round of the tournament. On 6 May 2016, it was confirmed Verratti would miss Euro 2016 after a long lasting injury from a sports hernia which would require surgery on 16 May, sidelining him for two months. Upon recovering from his injury, Verratti returned to the team under Italy’s new manager Gian Piero Ventura for an international friendly match against France in Bari on 1 September, making a substitute appearance in the Azzurri’s 3–1 loss. On 26 March 2019, Verratti scored his second international goal in a 6–0 home win over Liechtenstein in a UEFA Euro 2020 qualifying match.
Stile of play
A quick, creative, agile, and technically gifted central midfield playmaker, with notable dribbling skills, quick reactions, and close ball control, Verratti is known for his confidence on the ball and ability to retain possession in tight spaces when under pressure, due to his low centre of gravity and resulting balance. His excellent vision and range of passing enable him to create chances for teammates with accurate long passes, or control the tempo of his team’s play in midfield through precise, short exchanges. Although naturally right-footed, he is capable of playing with either foot. Due to his attributes and playing style, Verratti has been compared to Italy legend Andrea Pirlo, in particular after making the same transition from trequartista to regista that the 2006 FIFA World Cup winner had also made earlier on in his career, although he has also been deployed in a new, more advanced role alongside Pirlo on occasion, as a false-attacking midfielder, in particular under Cesare Prandelli’s tenure with the Italy national team. Initially regarded as one of the most talented young players of his generation, Verratti quickly developed into one of the best playmaking midfielders in the world. In addition to his playmaking skills, he is also a hard-working, dynamic, and well-rounded midfielder, who is known for his aggression, defensive skills, and ball-winning abilities, despite his small physique and diminutive stature, which also enables him to be deployed in a holding role. He drawn criticism over his disciplinary record, as well as his tendency to commit an excessive number of fouls, argue with officials, and pick up unnecessary bookings.