Inter Milan sporting director Piero Ausilio has confirmed Marco Verratti was a target before he joined Paris Saint-Germain.
Verratti has shined for PSG since joining the Ligue 1 side from Pescara in July and has missed just one of their 12 league games so far this season.
His performances have drawn plaudits from far and wide and Ausilio admitted Verratti could well have become an Inter player, but for the intervention of PSG.
“When we had the chance to chat to the boy last July, we had invested a lot of money in a player who will be the future of Inter, (Fredy) Guarin,” he told the Inter TV channel.
“I think with Verratti it was hoped, and not only by us, (that we could) gain a bit of time, but when clubs like PSG come in you can’t really do much.
“PSG always swoop to snap up our targets after we’ve done the scouting work? That’s something I must ask Leonardo about. I’m joking of course, he does his job very well,” Ausilio added, referring to former Inter coach Leonardo, now sporting director for the Ligue 1 giants.
Verratti’s impressive performances earned him an Italy debut during a friendly against England in August and Ausilio can see similarities between the youngster and another esteemed member of the Azzurri squad, Juve veteran Andrea Pirlo.
“He’s an excellent footballer and I think a key moment in his development came when (former Pescara coach) Zdenek Zeman moved him into a different position,” he said.
“He used to play as an attacking midfielder, just like Pirlo, the difference being that Verratti dropped into a deeper role at a very young age.
“(PSG coach) Carlo Ancelotti had the idea of playing him in front of the defence and now he’s become one of the best. I hope he can follow in Pirlo’s footsteps. He’s got bags of quality, but life is about moments.”