Italian midfield star Marco Verratti, one of the icons of the Qatari era with Paris Saint-Germain, turned the page on the French champions and opened another page with his remarkable transfer to Qatari club Al Arabi on Wednesday.
After 11 years in Paris, the player nicknamed “The Little Owl” decided to take on a new challenge in his career, accepting the offer presented by the gas-rich Gulf emirate to host the 2022 World Cup.
Verratti will join his former colleague at Saint-Germain, international centre-back Abdo Diallo, Brazilian midfielder Rafinha Alcantara and Syrian strikers Omar Al-Souma and Tunisian Youssef Massagni.
In a statement on Wednesday, Saint-Germain quoted its Qatari president Nasser Al-Khelaifi as saying that Verratti had “played an important role in our great history”, while the Italian said in the same statement that “Paris, the club and the fans will always have a special place in my heart. . “I will forever be a Parisian.”
For its part, Al-Arabi Qatari published a video on its account on the “X” website, in which Verratti appeared wearing the club’s red shirt and commented with the tag “Verratti Arabawi”. Without mentioning the financial details of the deal, he has attached pictures of the signatures indicating that the contract will be extended for 3 years.
Two years ago, Verratti won the European Cup with his national team and is considered one of the continent’s best midfielders. But his departure is in line with a new policy pursued by the Parisian club’s management, who are keen to dust off a series of setbacks after enduring one of their worst seasons since the start of the Qatari sponsorship era in 2011. Despite winning the French league title 11 times, Saint-Germain failed to live up to its expectations after including the most important international stars.
This has made possible the departure of all players, even though he has been one of the pillars of the club in the recent era with the likes of Verratti and Brazilian Neymar moving to Saudi club Al Hilal.
With Spanish coach Luis Enrique taking over from Christophe Galtier as the team’s coach, some thought the Italian star could push him to continue the adventure, given his ability to fill a key role that meets Enrique’s ambitions. However, this is considered non-negotiable at Saint-Germain, even if the 2022-2023 season necessitates his exit whoever he is. Verratti, who last December renewed his contract at Parc des Princes until 2026, has seemed to tire recently, particularly in the second half of the season, when he was far from his form.
However, the small midfielder (1.65m) moving to the French capital club will be a huge void, because when he is in good spirits and away from injury, he is considered a great technical value, and Spanish coach Josep Guardiola previously said. The Italian “loves him” against Manchester City in the Champions League in September 2021.
The Spanish coach said: “He is an exceptional and legendary player. Under pressure, he has the necessary composure to take the extra touch on the ball and deliver the decisive pass.
Barcelona have always held onto a thread of hope to add the Italian jewels, and almost achieved their goal in 2017, but they faced great stubbornness from the Saint-Germain administration, which Verratti considered abandoning the ban. It is known that Saint-Germain did not hesitate to extend his contract several times to keep him in Paris (2013, 2016, 2019, and 2022).
Despite winning 9 titles with Saint-Germain in Ligue 1 and the European Cup with the Azzurri, Verratti has faced many challenges in his career with constant injuries and a sometimes questionable lifestyle which has seen him miss out on major competitions such as the Champions League. Europe against Bayern Munich in Lisbon in 2020, entered as a substitute.
His time at Saint-Germain was characterized by his lack of discipline and “harsh” warnings (141 yellow cards and 6 reds).