After six years as teammates at Paris Saint-Germain, Verratti has become the latest high-profile European player to switch to Middle Eastern football.
Paris Saint-Germain’s French star Kylian Mbappe penned an emotional tribute to his outgoing teammate Marco Verratti, who has been unveiled as the latest addition to Qatar’s Al Arabi.
“An exceptional player and person. It has been an immense pleasure to be by your side all these years. Your time here will never be forgotten or overlooked. One of the best players I have ever seen. Thank you, my friend, I am going to miss you a lot,” Mbappe said in an Instagram story.
Verratti, 30, ended an era with PSG that began in 2012. During his more than a decade-long tenure, he made a notable 276 league appearances and netted seven goals. He was instrumental in the team’s nine Ligue 1 title triumphs and their journey to a UEFA Champions League final.
The Italian’s departure comes within a week of Aston Villa’s Philippe Coutinho transferring to Al-Duhail on a season-long loan, adding to an increasing trend of high-profile European-based players securing deals in Qatar.
Verratti’s move also underlines a wider exodus of talent to the Middle East, following several players who have transferred to the Saudi Pro League over the summer. Among them, Neymar, another former PSG team-mate of Verratti’s, joined Al-Hilal in August for £77.6 million.
In Qatar, Verratti will reunite with former PSG colleague Rafinha, the younger sibling of Liverpool’s Thiago. The two had previously shared the pitch in Paris between 2020 and 2022.
Speaking to the PSG website, Verratti said, “I was very proud to wear the colours of Paris St-Germain for more than a decade, to rub shoulders with so many great players and to win 30 trophies. Paris, the club and its supporters will always have a very special place in my heart. I will be Parisian forever.”