Barcelona chief: Marco Verratti wants to come but PSG won't negotiate
Barcelona want to sign Marco Verratti and the Paris Saint-Germain midfielder wants to move to Camp Nou, the Catalan club's president Josep Maria Bartomeu has confirmed to Diario Sport.
However, Bartomeu also said that signing the Italy international is looking increasingly difficult given PSG's reluctance to lose the 24-year-old.
The French side have refused to even listen to Barca's offer for Verratti, which local media reports would have been worth around €80 million.
"Verratti is a player we like," Bartomeu said. "[Sporting director] Robert [Fernandez] wants him to come, as do [first-team coach Ernesto] Valverde and [general manager Pep] Segura. And we know that the player wants to come to Barca.
"The problem is that PSG have now told us they do not want to negotiate. The fact there is no release clause is a problem because you cannot go there and sign a player.
"For that reason, if the club do not want to sell, as is the case here, [what can you do]: 'We do not want to sell, we do not want to sit down with you, we will talk about whatever you want, but not about Verratti.'"
Verratti is expected to report for preseason training with the rest of his PSG teammates on Friday, despite having been given until next Monday for his holidays.
Speaking to Il Corriere dello Sport in Italy, Verratti's agent Donato Di Campli said he feels PSG are blocking the sale of his client to Barcelona purely out of spite.
"Barca have been after Marco for at least a year, but the situation has escalated in recent days," he said. "In France, they are throwing everything at Marco, who is not even saying anything, and at me, who is his agent -- insults, attacks from left, right and centre and controversial comments on radio and TV, with a bombardment of tweets and posts on social media.
"'Traitor' and 'mercenary' are the kindest terms being used. The first point is that neither Marco nor I are ungrateful. We have recognised and always will recognise what PSG have given and give us -- do you really believe that you can live badly in Paris in the conditions Marco is in? Of course not.
"Marco knows perfectly what his contractual obligations to PSG are, but it is natural that he is attracted by the prospect of playing for Barcelona. Who wouldn't be at the age of 24 in the season which runs up to the World Cup?
"The second point is: do PSG really want to build a squad that can finally be competitive in Europe and are not only settling for winning Ligue 1 or the Coupe de France? There has been a lot of talk of [Kylian] Mbappe and a stratospheric offer of €150m to Monaco, but up to now not one new player worthy of the Champions League has arrived in Paris.
"Then there is the fourth point, which is the most important. It's about Doha, where the sovereign of Qatar is based and he, among many other things, owns PSG. The fund is led by Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, the emir of Qatar, whose financial resources are unlimited. Not selling Verratti to Barcelona for €100m has become a matter of pride.
"Do you know what [PSG chairman and CEO Nasser] Al-Khelaifi told me? That there is a contract until 2021 and he can never sell Marco because he considers him the champion around which they will build a great PSG and because if he did sell him, his own position would be on the line. In Doha, they would never forgive him. Taking Verratti to Barcelona would be like taking [Francesco] Totti away from Roma."
Should PSG indeed prove that they want to challenge as one of Europe's best, Verratti could still be convinced to stay, but Di Campli says he now wants to see actions rather than words, and more importantly an end to the insults.
"Soon we will meet with Al-Khelaifi and [Antero] Henrique, to tell them that Marco has not let things go to his head and that Marco is strong enough not to let anything get to him, all this nastiness and insults," he said. "Marco will also talk with [Unai] Emery [PSG coach], who deems him indispensable for the season which should be about relaunching them.
"Only the facts will show how true the coach's convictions are. I think something will happen."
Bartomeu, who says two to three signings will be made this summer, added that the club are looking at alternatives, but also pointed out there is a long way to go in the transfer window.
"Robert and Valverde are now thinking about other [options]," he said. "As of today, it has been impossible [to sign Verratti], but the market is open until Aug. 31.
"I cannot guarantee anything because it depends on the market and how negotiations go. As of today, though, PSG do not want to negotiate."
Information from ESPN FC's Jonathan Johnson and Ben Gladwell was used in this report.
Samuel Marsden covers Barcelona for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @SamuelMarsden.