Verratti: I’ve shut my mouth

Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Marco Verratti believes he is getting less yellow cards because he has learned French and doesn’t argue with officials as often.

The 23-year-old was booked a staggering 14 times in Ligue 1 and the Champions League last season, but has cleaned up his act significantly this season and has only received four yellow cards.

The Italy international claims it stems from a combination of factors, including him maturing as a player, learning the local language and accepting the referees’ decisions more often.

“I’m getting older and I’m still learning,” Verratti explained to The Guardian. “The bookings I got were often unnecessary so I’ve shut my mouth and don’t get them anymore, which is good because I used to be suspended a lot.

“I’ve also learnt French so I can express myself better. Before that, I think the referees felt I attacked them.”

The young star is set to face up against club teammate Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the summer at the 2016 European Championship in France, after Italy and Sweden were drawn alongside each other in Group E, a prospect he is relishing.

“I’m happy to play against him. Zlatan deserves to go far in a competition. Sweden should be grateful to him, he was decisive in qualifying and let’s hope he continues like that – except for the game against Italy,” he joked.

“Ibra and I get along really well, and when I was new at the club he helped me a lot. He’s a player that on his own is worth 50% of a team. This season is probably his best ever and the whole team would love him to stay next season but only the club and Zlatan can decide about his future.”