Attaching Lionel Messi’s name as a moniker to young attackers as an indication of their talent is a common practice in football these days.
Currently, Hellas Verona have two such men in their ranks after snapping up ‘the Georgian Messi' - Giorgi Chanturia - from Romanian outfit Cluj on Thursday.
The 21-year-old has been signed for a reported €1m outfit and joins Juan Iturbe in the Mastini ranks, another 21-year-old simply known as ‘the next Messi’ due to being Argentinian.
Chanturia’s name is one that should ring a bell with Chelsea fans, as the Blues were thought to be close to capturing the promising winger as a teenager in 2010 from FC Saburtalo - after he'd spent the season on loan at Barcelona.
But the Georgian would instead join Vitesse, interestingly enough best known around Europe as a pseudo-satellite club for none other than Roman Abramovich’s Chelsea.
Whispers suggested Chanturia could be summoned to Stamford Bridge down the line, yet a loan spell at Russian club Alania Vladikavkaz and February 2014 move to Cluj later, he’s on his way to Italy.
And it seems Verona have potentially signed the young wide-man as a replacement for Iturbe, who after a brilliant debut Serie A campaign on loan from Porto is in high demand from Europe’s elite.
The Stadio Bentegodi side paid a pre-arranged fee of €15 million to Porto last month to take ownership of the Argentinian, and are widely expected to sell him on to a wealthy suitor for a neat profit.
Signing Chanturia has only made this scenario all the more likely for Verona, whilst sporting director Sean Sogliano admitted last week Iturbe will be sold if the right offer comes in.
The Reds and the Giallorossi have already been active on the transfer market with deals for the likes of Rickie Lambert and Seydou Keita, but are thought to be in the hunt for a winger of Iturbe’s calibre and have each long been linked with him.
And concrete offers could foreseeably be just over the horizon with Verona’s securing of his successor in Chanturia.
The Mastini reportedly require a substantial €25 million to see off Iturbe, though with his sale looking an inevitability at this point, whoever acts first - Liverpool, Roma or even another club - and stumps up the cash stands a good chance of getting their man.
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