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Verratti or Saúl - What does Valverde want?

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Is Barça going to tweak its midfield structure this season under the new coach?

Club Atletico de Madrid v SD Eibar - La Liga

Atlético Madrid midfielder Saúl Ñíguez is Barcelona’s backup option if the move for Marco Verratti falls through, according to AS.

There has been plenty of talk regarding Verratti and his future with current employers Paris Saint-Germain, forcing the midfielder to issue a public statement debunking an interview published in Italian media.

With Paulinho and Lucas Lima being the only other players in the discussion for a midfield transfer, it seemed for quite a while that Barcelona was ready to go all-in for Verratti. This new report from AS comes as a major relief, therefore, suggesting that Barcelona is weighing their options carefully in order to avoid going bust on deadline day.

However, there’s very little to compare the two players considering their polarising profiles—while Verratti is a quintessential central midfielder, Saúl is a little more diverse in his style of play.

Verratti averages a mammoth 99.88 passes per 90 minutes in comparison to the Atletico de Madrid man who manages a paltry number of 42.21 in the same metric.

The Italian also averages more key passes compared to Saúl (MV: 1.47, SN: 0.78), creates more chances (MV: 1.68, SN: 0.88) and boasts a greater pass completion rate (MV:89%, SN: 78%) while making more forward passes per 90 (MV: 66.34, SN: 26.83).

Although Saúl falls behind in some key possession battles, his production off the ball is what makes him an option, besting Verratti in interceptions (SN: 2.16, MV: 0.92), blocks (SN: 0.25, MV: 0.17), clearances (SN: 2.16, MV: 0.63) and aerial duels won (SN: 84%, MV: 49%).

Saúl is also an incredibly versatile player, capable of playing all over the middle of the park. His lone appearance as a left-back this season ended with him getting a massive rating on WhoScored (8.66)—while the rating itself is disputable, it certainly underlines the Spaniard’s ability in a more defensive role.

Between Verratti and Saúl, the choice is obvious; there is only one man who can fill the void in Barcelona’s midfield and he plays for PSG. With Valverde’s appointment, however, the demands may have slightly changed which begs the question, what does the new Barça coach want?

Yes, he’s told everyone about his insistence to build through the middle and bring back the glory days with a strong & dominant midfield—but what does that mean for the kind of personnel he will deploy?

There are too many questions with very few answers at the moment, but at least we’re spared from the horror of discussing Paulinho and Lima for now, which can only be a good thing.

(All statistics from Squawka and WhoScored)


Whom do you want at Barça?

This poll is closed

  • 87%
    Marco Verratti
    (2411 votes)
  • 6%
    Saúl Ñíguez
    (189 votes)
  • 1%
    (46 votes)
  • 1%
    Lucas Lima
    (44 votes)
  • 2%
    Other (mention below)
    (74 votes)
2764 votes total Vote Now