European 'summits' key to Blanc's new PSG deal

PSG coach Laurent Blanc, who led his team to two straight Ligue One titles, has had his contract extended by two years.
PSG coach Laurent Blanc, who led his team to two straight Ligue One titles, has had his contract extended by two years.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

PARIS • Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) have rewarded Laurent Blanc for shaping the most dominant team in French football history by extending his contract until 2018.

The manager's current deal runs out at the end of the season and the club's wealthy Qatari owners moved to tie the 50-year-old to a new contract without waiting to see how the side do in looming decisive Champions League clashes.

The Ligue One club have yet to make it past the quarter-finals of the Champions League since Qatar Sports Investment (QSI) took over in 2011, although they have claimed five of six possible domestic titles with Blanc.

PSG play Chelsea in the last 16, with the first leg in Paris next week.

"With him, PSG have more than ever the ambition of... continuing their climb to the European summits," the club said yesterday.

The Champions League trophy represents the height of the club's ambitions. But they are also progressing well in two other competitions. They have a 24-point lead over second-placed Monaco in the league, while they eased past Lyon 3-0 to reach the quarter-finals of the French Cup on Wednesday.

That victory extended the capital club's winning run to 16 matches.

PSG are on a 34-game unbeaten run in the league and have not lost a game in domestic competition for seven months.

"I want to thank the club for the faith they put in me," said Blanc, the former France defender who won the World Cup in 1998. "The club have ambitions both nationally and in Europe, and we'll do all we can to reach those objectives.

"We'll get there; we're ready. We're aware that we're at a big club where expectations are very high."

The extension for Blanc ends talk linking Jose Mourinho with the PSG job, while heightening speculation that the former Chelsea manager will be the new Manchester United boss at the end of the season.

Blanc arrived at PSG in 2013 after Italian Carlo Ancelotti left for Real Madrid, despite the initial reservations of the Qatari owners, who wanted a bigger name.

But he has since impressed. He led PSG to two successive Ligue One titles and an unprecedented treble of league, League Cup and French Cup titles last season.

He has also shown in his handling of the temperamental big-salary stars such as Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Edinson Cavani and David Luiz that he can be firm while encouraging their talent. In addition, Paris owner Nasser Al-Khelaifi is happy that the team are not only winning but doing so in style.

"He has obtained excellent results since his arrival," Al-Khelaifi said. "Also, I like our team's playing style, a style that he has instilled."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 12, 2016, with the headline 'European 'summits' key to Blanc's new PSG deal'. Print Edition | Subscribe