The entire footballing world was talking about Marco Verratti last week after his imperious showing against Barcelona led PSG to their famous 4-0 win.
Manchester United, Chelsea and Barcelona were all linked with a move for the Italian in recent days as attentions begin to turn to the summer transfer window.
It’s still little more than a rumour but how exactly would the Reds line up if Verratti was to arrive before next season?
4-3-3 With Pogba And Herrera
On the right of a midfield three is where the 24-year-old tends to operate best with dynamic players alongside him. In Paris, Blaise Matuidi and Adrien Rabiot (or Thiago Motta) fill those spots, at United, Herrera and Pogba are definite upgrades.
A look at these pass maps from Twitter user @11tegen11 show the similarities in how Unai Emery and Jose Mourinho set up their midfield.
— 11tegen11 (@11tegen11) September 28, 2016
— 11tegen11 (@11tegen11) November 19, 2016
Both the positioning and passing of Herrera and Verratti appear almost identical. With Michael Carrick set to leave the club at the end of the season, the Basque will likely drop back into the more defensive role currently occupied by the former Spurs man, a position he’s already demonstrated to be very comfortable in, allowing the new arrival to take up his preferred spot. The energy and industry alone of this midfield three would make it a fearsome triumvirate.
Going forward, it frees up Jose to pick the 4-3-3 formation that contributed massively to his meteoric rise in the world of football. Crucially, Pogba too retains his best position on the left side of the three, similar to Matuidi’s role under Emery.
4-2-3-1 Alongside Pogba
Both the pros and cons of this lineup are clear. There’s no space for Ander Herrera, arguably United’s most important player this season but it does introduce his compatriot Juan Mata, one of Mourinho’s most effective attacking threats.
It shunts Paul Pogba back into a more defensive post but Henrikh Mkhitaryan can operate in his preferred spot behind the striker.
In our mind, there are just too many arguments against this shape for it to be viable.
4-2-3-1 Alongside Herrera
Again, it’s difficult to imagine Mourinho opting for this selection as Pogba is forced into a number 10 position behind Ibrahimovic, a role he’s struggled with frequently. While a Herrera-Verratti combination makes up a combative midfield, the mitigation of the abilities of the game’s most expensive player means such a lineup is very unlikely.