Marco Verratti on the level in France: “Ligue 1 is no worse than Serie A, or the other leagues.”
The young man from Pescara who left Italy for the bright lights of the capital city has now been in France for over a decade. That much time somewhere can have a lasting impact on anyone, but as a young player, Marco Verratti went from a 19-year-old who had never stepped foot in France to signing with PSG with the intention to play there for five years. That was no small commitment.
The PSG midfielder spoke to L’Équipe about Paris and his first impressions. The city made such an impression on him that he stated that he loved the city since the moment he stepped off the plane, but there was still an adjustment period.
The Italian international stated, “At first it was hard. I felt like I was in a giant city. But, like I said, if you’re smart, it’s impossible not to love Paris. You have everything you want here. Every day I could do different things. I spent many of my days discovering, walking, visiting museums, exhibitions. Pescara is small and they are all crazy about football. It’s hard to walk the streets, especially when you’ve just done two climbs in a row. Here, for the first two or three years, I really liked it. People didn’t stop me in the street. If I could go back to that period, that would be great. I loved. At the same time, I had a lot of fun on the pitch. I was playing with great champions. This does It wasn’t even difficult to go from Pescara in D2 to the Champions League with them. We had an incredible team.”
As a student of the game Verratti even knew about Ligue 1 from a young age. He spoke about his understanding of the French league before his arrival explaining, “I have always loved watching football. All Championships. My mother often said to me: ‘But how do you know this team?’ I really watched everything. The French, English and Spanish Championship. When I was little, school wasn’t really my thing, but I was very good at geography thanks to football. I knew a lot of cities, I knew in which countries they were. And I knew Ligue 1 well. I even knew a few words. I was useless in English, but not in French.”
Outside of football, the French can be known for their bluntness, or as being “cold.” Something PSG’s number 6 stated he did not like at first but grew into one of his favorite parts of French life. The European champion spoke about the difference between France and Italy, “It seems like we’re all friends but, in the end, if you need someone, there aren’t many people left. In France, I have three, or four real friends. And, if anything happens at any time of the night, I know I can call them and they’ll be there for me.”
Being completely submerged in French life it follows him even when he is not in France explaining, “I sometimes use French words. My wife is French, at home we speak French, at PSG we speak French. I speak French all day. And when I’m in Italy, I sometimes speak French to my mother or my father. They say to me: “Oula, you left for something else.” (Laughter.) They don’t speak the language at all.”
On Ligue 1, he spoke about what the league has given him as a player, “Ligue 1 allowed me to discover a different Championship which took me out of my comfort zone. Each country has its specificities. Ligue 1 is very physical. I’m not very tall, not very strong. Faced with all these teams, you have to hold on and be strong. This league has helped me a lot to grow to where I am now.”
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He also defended the league stating, “In European competitions, PSG often go far. We played a Champions League final recently (2020, against Bayern, 0-1) . Lyon also played a semi-final beating Juve (1-0, 1-2) , Manchester City (3-1) , two big teams. Me, I get along very well in Ligue 1. I see a lot of good players. Ligue 1 is no worse than Serie A or the other leagues.”