'Verratti is a phenomenon' - Messi reveals Barcelona wanted to sign PSG star
Lionel Messi has revealed that Barcelona wanted to sign Marco Verratti when he was still at the club, while describing the Paris Saint-Germain star as a "phenomenon".
Messi was officially unveiled at Parc des Princes on Tuesday after signing for PSG on a free transfer following his surprise exit from Barcelona, who couldn't afford to re-sign the 34-year-old due to the current wage restrictions in La Liga.
He will now link up with a host of other superstars in Paris, including Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, but he singled out Verratti for special praise in his first official press conference for the French club.
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What's been said?
Messi also confirmed that Barca had identified the Italy international as a transfer target before he left Camp Nou, telling reporters in midweek: "Marco Verratti has shown that he is a huge player, one of the best in the world in his position. He is a phenomenon.
“He was wanted in Barcelona, but now it is the reverse and it is me coming to him in Paris.
"Not only Marco, but the dressing room is full of the best players in the world.”
Verratti's career record
Verratti began his career with Italian outfit Pescara in 2008, where he spent four years before being snapped up by PSG.
The diminutive midfielder has since appeared in 346 games across all competitions for the Ligue 1 giants, recording nine goals and 58 assists, while also getting his hands on 27 trophies - including seven league titles.
Verratti has enjoyed plenty of success on the international stage too, making 45 appearances for Italy, with five of those outings coming during their run to European Championship glory earlier this summer.
Messi on Pochettino
Messi went on to credit PSG boss and fellow countryman Mauricio Pochettino for playing a key role in his move to Parc des Princes.
"The coach and coaching staff had a big part in the negotiations," he said. "When I saw it was possible, I spoke with him (Pochettino) straight away. I've known him for a while.
"I spoke to him, the fact we are two Argentines helped a lot. We spoke, it went well to begin with. The technical staff at PSG also helped my decision."