Arsenal are supposedly planning a major summer rebuild after a roller coaster 2013/14 campaign, and PSG’s Italian wonder kid Marco Verratti should be at the top Arsene Wenger’s shopping list.
This season, Arsenal’s form in the Premier League has been about as consistent as David Moyes’ team selection. They have embodied the extreme oscillations in form and bizarre scorelines that have punctuated this bizarre Premier League campaign, and have once again lived up to their reputation as the division’s biggest bottlers.
They started the season in mouth-watering fashion, unbeaten in their first thirteen games, and sat very comfortably at the top of the Premier league pile in cruise control. Since then, things have characteristically taken a turn for the worse, and they now sit in fourth scrapping nervously for a Champions League qualification spot.
Evidently, inconsistency never arises without a reason: and for Arsenal, their disparate league form has originated out of, quite simply, inconsistency in team selection. Injury has been a key reason for this, with Theo Walcott, Jack Wilshere and until-recently, Aaron Ramsey, all experiencing the roubles of lengthy absences.
Furthermore, Ozil has come under fire this year for failing to deliver performances that live up to his billing, and he’s in desperate need of a dynamism that can take some of the heat off the German next year. Elsewhere, Mikel Arteta and Matthieu Flamini, though reliable, lack any sense of scare factor, and are not Premier League-winning midfielders.
The 21-year-old Italian took Ligue 1 by storm with his impressive, eye-catching performances during his debut season in the French capital, helping guide PSG to their first Championnat since 1994. And now in his second season, the former Pescara man is once again displaying just why he is considered to be one of the most talented young midfielders in European and world football.
A stylish and intelligent player, Verratti provides an effortless creativity that has complemented the workmanship style of the PSG midfield. Despite being just 21 years of age, he backs up this variety of passing with a calmness on the ball that belies his young age.
In PSG’s Champions League Round of 16 clash against Bayer Leverkusen, he completed 102 of 107 passes, and stood out as one of the French club’s star players, despite being the youngest. Many in France and Italy have compared him to Milan and Juventus legend Andrea Pirlo, which is by no means a small compliment.
When PSG signed French international Yohan Cabaye in January, many believed the former Lille midfielder would force his way into the side at Verratti’s expense. But the fact that Verratti is keeping an admired midfield maestro like Cabaye among the substitutes is arguably the biggest tribute that can be paid to him.
There is no doubt that Arsenal need to make changes to a squad that is looking increasingly tired; their resources are slowly being exhausted, and the team lacks the exciting dimension to their game that typified their style of play in the early 2000s.
You would be hard-pressed to call Arsenal a step up from PSG in terms of quality at the moment. Nevertheless, if Arsenal were to make changes across the whole board, bring in quality up front, as well as in defence, Verratti may well be persuaded to cross the channel and join up with fellow Italian Emiliano Viviano, currently on loan from Serie B side Palermo.
An appearance and strong showing at the World Cup will unquestionably further Verratti’s already substantial standing in world football, and if Arsenal were to coax the youngster away from the French capital this Summer, they would have one hell of a player on their hands.