Paris Saint Germain midfielder Marco Verratti is a doubt to face Manchester United in the Champions League after spraining his ankle.
The Italian superstar was forced to leave the pitch early during PSG’s 9-0 demolition of Guingamp over the weekend in Ligue 1, with head coach Thomas Tuchel bemoaning their bad luck.
According to Sky Sports, the German boss stated post-match: “I think that it is serious. Really, it is the worst thing that could have happened to us.”
Man United will host PSG in the first leg of their last-16 tie on February 12 at Old Trafford, before playing the return at the Parc Des Princes on March 6.
This latest news will surely come as a huge boost to United supporters, heading into the club’s most crucial game of the season to date.
Verratti is the man who makes PSG tick, a midfield maestro with the ability to dictate proceedings from a deep-lying role in the middle of the park using an exceptional passing range as his main tool.
Without him, the French champions are much less effective, as he provides the main link between the midfield and attack, feeding the lethal triumvirate of Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Edinson Cavani up front.
Adrien Rabiot is the logical replacement for PSG in the absence of Verratti, but he has been axed from the current squad after a break down in negotiations over a new contract.
The Red Devils head into the European clash as underdogs, but their odds may be slashed if Verratti fails to recover in time for the first-leg, particularly as Solskjaer’s men continue to build momentum domestically in England.
United have won seven consecutive games under Solskjaer and the team now looks capable of competing with anyone, which is a far cry from how they were shaping up during the final months of Jose Mourinho’s reign.
PSG are in for a tough examination next month and they will now be praying that Verratti makes a miraculous recovery, because he could well hold the key to overcoming the Premier League giants.