Liverpool and Manchester United look set to miss out on the capture of a high-quality Italy star after he became a target for Saudi Arabian club Al Hilal, according to Fabrizio Romano.
Plenty of big names have followed Cristiano Ronaldo to the Saudi Pro League this summer, including Karim Benzema, N’Golo Kante, Roberto Firmino, Edouard Mendy and Marcelo Brozovic. So far, Al Hilal have brought in Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, Ruben Neves, Kalidou Koulibaly and Malcolm.
Al Hilal will be hoping those players can help them get closer to winning the Saudi title. Last season, they finished in third place, 13 points behind champions Al Ittihad.
And Al Hilal could soon create a brilliant midfield trio of Milinkovic-Savic, Neves and Marco Verratti. Paris Saint-Germain ace Verratti was linked with Man Utd in May, when reports in Spain revealed Erik ten Hag to be looking at Verratti as a perfect midfield partner for Casemiro.
Earlier this month, it was suggested Liverpool might battle Man Utd for Verratti as French newspaper L’Equipe revealed Jurgen Klopp to be keeping a close eye on his situation.
However, Romano first revealed Al Hilal’s interest in the 30-year-old in June and that particular move has now taken a big leap forward. On Wednesday, Romano explained how Al Hilal were in ‘advanced talks’ with Verratti’s camp to try and sort out a mega-money contract. And the two parties have now reached an agreement on a three-year deal.
Al Hilal, who are managed by Jorge Jesus, have now turned their attention to finalising a deal with PSG. They have initially offered PSG €30million (£25.7m), though this has been rejected.
Romano states that PSG ‘want more’ to sell the 55-cap Italy international, but he does not reveal exactly how much they are demanding. L’Equipe, meanwhile, claim the Ligue 1 giants are hoping for as much as €100m (£85.7m).
Al Hilal could break transfer record on Liverpool, Man Utd-linked star
That would be a big outlay for Al Hilal, who recently broke the Saudi record by spending €60m (£51.4m) to sign Brazilian winger Malcolm. Despite this, Al Hilal have more than enough money to pay this thanks to them being owned by the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund (PIF).
Of course, Verratti is not the only PSG ace Al Hilal are pursuing, as they have also seen a world-record €300m (£259m) bid for Kylian Mbappe accepted. Unfortunately for Jesus’ side, they may struggle to complete that deal as Mbappe hopes to stay in Europe.
Eyebrows will have been raised when Man Utd were linked with Verratti, as he is known to be one of the top midfield operators in Europe. But Ten Hag is eager to focus on young, hungry players and move away from star names, so Man Utd opted against bidding for him.
Liverpool’s interest in Verratti is thought to be more serious. They will not have enough money to match PSG’s huge asking price though, having already spent upwards of £95m on Alexis Mac Allister and Dominik Szoboszlai, while also being in advanced discussions to sign Romeo Lavia from Southampton.