Demetrio Albertini believes Marco Verratti is the Italian equivalent of Barcelona and Spain legend Xavi.
The former Italy international has heaped praise on the diminutive Paris Saint-Germain midfielder after watching him star in his country’s Euro 2016 qualifying win over Azerbaijan on Saturday.
Andrea Pirlo was unable to play due to a hamstring injury so it was up to Verratti to produce the creative spark from deep for Antonio Conte’s side.
And he had absolutely no problem, dictating play all night and laying on Eder’s opening goal with a beautiful assist.
Albertini – an Italian international who had spells at AC Milan, Lazio and Barcelona among other teams in his career – has provided Verratti with the ultimate tribute after the performance, comparing him to former Barca playmaker Xavi.
According to Albertini – who was speaking to La Gazzetta dello Sport – Verratti suits Barcelona to a tee.
Verratti reminds me of Xavi, and I’ve told him that more than once.
He plays like a Barcelona player would by making short passes. He is different from Pirlo but he is still great.
As for Andrea, he makes passes 50 yards away from the goal, which is why I consider him to be one of the five best Italian players of all-time, but maybe that might offend him as I said five and not two.
Pirlo makes the entire team play well regardless of his teammates. Marco needs the help of those around him a bit more, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Verratti has been linked with Barca for some time despite being valued highly in Paris.
He was signed by the Ligue 1 champions in 2012 for just €12million, but is believed to be rated at almost four times that price now.