Whilst Neymar – who infamously moved between the clubs in the summer of 2017 – is absent for the visitors, there is one player who came close to moving the other way prior to the Brazilian’s switch.
Marco Verratti, who has been at PSG since 2012, had previously been strongly linked with a move to Catalonia and his former agent has now revealed that there were indeed discussions on a move, which never materialised.
The Italy international was heavily linked with a move to the Camp Nou in the summers of both 2016 and 2017, but he remained in the French capital.
Verratti’s former agent Donato Di Campli told L’Equipe, in quotes carried by Marca: “When Barça contacted me, I asked Marco what he wanted to do. He told me to talk to them. PSG was not very strong at the time and I asked him: ‘Are we going or are we staying?’ And he answered me: ‘Okay then, let’s try another experience.
“PSG asked him to commit his future to the club, but Marco wanted to go to Barcelona. He wanted to play with Messi, to become a champion, which is different from being a great player.
“PSG is one of the biggest clubs in the world, but he’s playing in a weak championship. I told Marco that if he wanted to become a champion he had to move. It is nothing against PSG, but it’s easier to do it at Bayern Munich, Barcelona or Real Madrid.
“When he realized that it was not possible, he was afraid. He did not want to be cut off and not play. When he returned to Paris, they told him: ‘We are going to sign Neymar, we are going to extend your contract, but you have to change your agent.’
“He was forcing me to leave him for waging war to take him to Barcelona, but he backed off.
“I started with a Kalashnikov and ended up with a water pistol.”
The midfielder joined the Parisians from Pescara and has won three caps at international level for the Azzurri, scoring three times for his nation.