Marco Verratti an important man for Italy after Montolivo's injury

The Paris Saint-Germain midfielder is likely to be an important man for the Azzurri after the AC Milan star’s injury.

Italy were handed a significant blow in their World Cup preparations last night, as AC Milan playmaker Riccardo Montolivo broke his leg in a friendly against Republic of Ireland.

With the former Fiorentina star now unavailable, there will be an emphasis on others to step up and fill his shoes.

With deep-flying midfielders Andrea Pirlo and Daniele De Rossi almost assured a place in Cesare Prandelli’s midfield, the third member of the unit will be charged with acting more offensively.

With no Montolivo, there is scope for Claudio Marchisio to command a starting berth, but another real option is Marco Verratti.

The Paris Saint-Germain star has had an excellent campaign at club level in France and could offer a bit of guile, poise on the ball and box-to-box play in Montolivo’s absence.

Verratti is being hailed in some corners as a long-term successor to Pirlo, but it may well be that master and apprentice get the chance to play together in Brazil.

The former Pescara man’s club future has been a point of contention, with both Manchester United and Arsenal being linked with a move for the Italian over the last six months.

With PSG signing Yohan Cabaye in January and seemingly having Paul Pogba in their sights, Verratti could be someone that Premier League scouts will be keeping a close eye on this summer.

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