Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Marco Verratti has been linked with a big money move to Barcelona, and the Catalan club should pull out all the stops and ensure goes through.
It is a summer of change at the Camp Nou; Ernesto Valverde is the new man at the helm and he will be looking to make his mark with the Blaugrana. A statement signing such as Verratti would also be a great way for the club to show that they are backing their new man.
Barca need to bridge the gap between themselves and Real Madrid – they only finished 3 points behind their El Clasico rivals last season but it felt like a lot more. Despite the title race going down to the final day, Los Blancos were in control of La Liga for the majority of the season. For Luis Enrique’s team – a side that's won the championship six times in last 10 years – that's hard to take. They've also had to sit back and watch as Madrid have dominated the Champions League in recent years.
Something clearly needs to change. Signing the diminutive Italian would certainly go a long way to helping, as it's the middle of the pitch where Barca need urgent attention.
A side containing Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar will continue to terrorise sides at home and in Europe. They scored an astonishing 79 league goals between them last season.
Defensively, they are in fairly good shape as well. In fact it was only Villarreal and Atletico Madrid who conceded fewer La Liga goals last term.
It's in the midfield area where Barca are missing a spark. Andres Iniesta – an incredible career as he has had – is starting to feel the effects of Father Time. Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic need support. The signing of Andre Gomes hasn't really worked out. Valverde has spoken of a desire to promote from within, and La Masia will always produce talented players. But right now, there's definitely room for a star name.
Verratti would be perfect. A dynamic ball playing central midfielder, with great technical ability and an eye for a key pass. With a passing success rate of 88.4% in Ligue 1 last season, he would slot into the Blaugrana midfield easily. He would also add some bite, as last season he had a higher successful tackle rate than any of the midfield options currently plying their trade at Barca. His signing would definitely fall into the ‘Marquee’ category, and sends a powerful message of intent to the rest of Europe.
It's a deal that will likely take the majority of any transfer funds Barcelona have available this summer, a fee in excess of €80m is likely needed. However this is easily justified. At 24 the Italian will only improve, and could be a key player for at least a decade at the Camp Nou.
Signing Verratti doesn't mean that Barca will automatically win every trophy again next year, it won't solve everything. But adding him to the squad will certainly lift everyone at the club going into the new season. Big signings always do.
The club’s recent transfer history is patchy, at best. This is an opportunity to put that right. It's a signing the Catalans need to get right, in a summer transfer window they need to get right.