The Italy international thinks the Argentine is the toughest opponent he has faced and says he would love to emulate Andrea Pirlo in his career
The Ligue 1 champions have faced Barcelona three times in this season’s Champions League alone, with Messi helping the Catalans to a 3-1 win at Parc des Princes on Wednesday.
Though he missed that match through suspension, Verratti is in no doubt that the Argentine is the best opponent he has ever faced, ahead of Real Madrid sensation Ronaldo and Chelsea favourite Hazard, formerly of Lille.
“Yes, the toughest and the most beautiful to watch,” he told L’Equipe when asked if Messi was his sternest adversary.
“I have played against greats, like Ronaldo and Hazard. But I love watching Messi’s touch of the ball, his style.”
Verratti has regularly been earmarked as Italy’s long-term successor to Juventus stalwart Andrea Pirlo and the 22-year-old says he would love to emulate the playmaker’s career.
“Our style of play is still a bit different,” he said when asked if he agreed with the comparisons.
“Pirlo has won everything: the World Cup, the Champions League… it’s a great honour to be compared to him. I hope to have his career.”
The former Pescara youngster also admits is habit of attempting to play out of danger has landed him in trouble with his team-mates in the past.
“There are times when it is worth taking risks,” said Verratti. “That’s my style of play. If you lose the ball in those few seconds, it’s dangerous, but if you succeed you can damage your opponent.
“At the beginning, yes [they reproached me]. Thiago Silva, among others. But now they often tell me to keep doing it because it helps the defenders or attackers retrieve the ball.”
Finally, Verratti said the backing from PSG’s supporters has left him convinced he made the right decision to join the club in 2012 – but refuted the idea that he has already become ‘the boss’ of Laurent Blanc’s midfield.
He continued: “In football today, there is no boss. Football has changed – you need a great team, not just one player. No one can make the difference alone.
“I didn’t expect it here because there are great champions here and I’m abroad. When you hear your name like that, in the stadium, it makes you think you made the right choice to sign. The best way to thank the fans is to play as much as possible and stay as long as possible.”