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PSG’s Italian star Verratti linked with Arsenal summer switch

Reports in Italy suggest PSG midfield star Marco Verratti is a £17m summer target for odds-on FA Cup favourites Arsenal (4/9), as they look to bolster their thin and demoralised squad.

The Gunners are in terrible form of late in the league especially, having dropped out of the title race and they now cling on to hope of a top four finish (8/13). They are just a point ahead of their recent 3-0 conquerors Everton (11/8) – who are fifth – and have played a game more than the Toffees.

Verratti, 21, would provide a freshness and stability to a midfield that has lost key players in crucial moments in the season due to injury, and/or lacks form. The likes of Aaron Ramsey (injury), Jack Wilshere (injury) and Mesut Ozil (both) fall into those categories.

Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini, meanwhile, are now in their thirties and Arsene Wenger is looking for new blood. Verratti, although not always PSG’s first choice, has managed to stay fit throughout his two seasons at the club so far, which would be a major plus for the Arsenal boss.

Verratti, capped four times for Italy with one goal, has yet to score for the Parisians, and it is rumoured that manager Laurent Blanc is willing to let his young starlet – whose contract runs out in 2018 – leave.

The deep-lying player, who has been compared to compatriot and Italian legend Andrea Pirlo, has featured in 38 games in all competitions this season so far for his club, and has helped them out with eight assists.

PSG prepare to face Chelsea in their Champions League quarter-final second leg match, and with Verratti starting and playing 75 minutes in the home tie, he is likely to feature again. Back his side at 7/2 to win in 90 minutes or 1/4 to qualify to the semis. They are 8/1 tournament fourth-favourites.

Verratti also hopes to be in Italy’s 23-man World Cup squad this summer in Brazil. He last played for his country against Argentina in August 2013, but was called up for the recent friendly against Spain.

Cesare Prandelli’s side face England, Uruguay and Costa Rica in Group D, where they are favourites both to finish top (13/8), and qualify (4/9). They are also 25/1 chances to win the competition.