Verratti and Xavi and the battle for Barcelona’s soul

Being stuck inside of an ideal isn’t inherently miserable. It can feel warm and fuzzy, knowing beyond the shadow of any doubt that what you believe to be true, actually is. It can be empowering, even when the model is long gone and things aren’t perfect. The idealist always possesses a wild card: The ability to say the other way — the better way — would’ve worked. It’s never that simple though, is it?

Marco Verratti is supposed to be “the new Xavi.” (Hell, even the real Xavi believes as much.) Now, being dubbed the “new” anyone is a charge equipped with enough baggage to hinder the most poised of young superstars. Nevertheless such labels are important because, in theory, they signify past figures that a specific group of people deem worthy of reprise. To grasp the weight of this particular assignment laid before Verratti, you first have to unpack

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