PSG line up Laurent Blanc to replace Ancelotti

Leaders of France's Ligue 1, Paris Saint-Germain have approached former French manager Laurent Blanc about the possibility of replacing current coach Carlo Ancelotti before next season, it was reported on Friday.

PSG line up Laurent Blanc to replace Ancelotti
Fromer French football manager Laurent Blanc speaks during the European Championships, June 2012. A report on May 10th links him to the PSG manager's job. Photo: Franck Fife/AFP

With current PSG coach Carlo Ancelotti looking as though he is on his way to Real Madrid at the end of the season, PSG are eager to line up a top class replacement. The latest name to enter the ring is that of Laurent Blanc.

Blanc, who won the 1998 World Cup as a player with France and coached the national team between 2010 and 2012, has already been contacted by the club "informally", according to sources of the French daily Le Parisien.

The newspaper reports that senior backroom staff at the Paris club are continuing their attempts to persuade Ancelotti to stay on as manager next season, but are courting possible successors in the case that the Italian moves on.

Ancelotti, 53, has been linked to the hot seat at Spanish giants Real Madrid, since their current manager Jose Mourinho seems destined to leave, with a return to Chelsea the likely option.

In recent weeks Ancelotti has refused to commit himself to PSG, which has only increased the speculation he is heading for the exit.

The Italian has previously said that there would be a meeting involving players and club management at the end of the season, which could decide whether or not he remains at the club.

PSG are currently seven points clear of second-place Marseille in Ligue 1, and look set to clinch the French title, barring a disastrous end to the season.

In the event that Ancelotti leaves PSG, senior officials including club president Nasser al-Khelaifi, are particularly attracted to the prospect of a homegrown manager such as Blanc, according to Le Parisien.

The club is owned by majority shareholders Qatar Investment Authority, has a Brazilian director of football in Leonardo, an Italian coach in Ancelotti, a Brazilian captain in Thiago Silva and its two marquee players are Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic and former England captain David Beckham.

Having a Frenchman at the helm could improve the club's image at home, especially in the capital city where the owners are trying to increase the club's following.

On the other hand, appointing a French coach, might not fit in with the owners desire to increase their image on the global scale.

Blanc however is a free agent after stepping down from the national job after France’s disappointing performance in last summer’s European championships.

Despite this failure, the former Manchester United centre-back is highly regarded in France. He is seen as having stabilized the national team after their catastrophic and rancorous exit from the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, under the stewardship of Raymond Domenech.

The 47-year-old, nicknamed ‘Le President’, began his coaching career with Bordeaux in 2007 and led them to the Ligue 1 title in just his second season at the helm.

Le Parisien also reported on Friday that Blanc had been approached by Ligue 1 side Monaco, whose owners are allegedly unhappy with the performance of their Italian coach Claudio Ranieri.

French sports daily L’Equipe claimed on Friday, however, that PSG had also contacted three other Italian coaches as possible successors to Ancelotti.

Manchester City coach Roberto Mancini, Russian national selector and former England coach Fabio Capello, as well as Zenith St. Petersburg manager Luciano Spalletti have all been approached by the Paris club, L'Equipe reported.

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OPINION: Mbappé’s title, but PSG need to breathe new life into Qatari project

After being the star of France's 2018 World Cup triumph, Kylian Mbappé has been the standout player for Paris Saint-Germain in a Ligue 1 title-winning campaign that has been slightly marred by the manner in which they limped over the line.

OPINION: Mbappé's title, but PSG need to breathe new life into Qatari project
Photos AFP

PSG finally wrapped up the title on Sunday after second-placed Lille failed to beat Toulouse, having not won any of their previous three games when the opportunity to confirm a sixth French crown in seven seasons was there.

The Qatari-owned club can still make it a domestic double, with the French Cup final to come against Rennes next weekend, yet this will not be remembered as a vintage year.

While Neymar once again went missing due to injury at the crucial point, Edinson Cavani has struggled with fitness too, and coach Thomas Tuchel has regularly lashed out at the lack of depth in his squad.

The 5-1 capitulation at Lille a week ago was the worst league result for PSG since Qatar Sports Investments bought the club in 2011, and the first time they had let in five in a league game since 2000.

A record-breaking 14-match winning run with which they started the season now seems like a long time ago, the latest Champions League failure clouding Tuchel's first campaign in charge.

Mbappé, at least, has been a constant, revelling in his status as a World Cup winner and hardly ever being rested. He only turned 20 in December, but has now won three Ligue 1 titles in a row.

Mbappé has 36 goals in 40 games this season, with 30 in the league. And, frighteningly, his team-mate Daniel Alves told RMC recently that “he doesn't realise how good he is, he can go much further”.

He is also not used to losing, and may have upset some of his teammates with his assessment of last week's defeat at Lille. “We played like beginners,” he said.

Hollow ring

To be fair, they have usually been exceptional domestically. However, the problem is that as long as they keep failing in the Champions League, domestic success for a club backed by a Gulf state will continue to ring hollow.

The title has effectively been in the bag for some time, but their season has been winding down ever since their exit against Manchester United in the last 16.

That, combined with being knocked out in the League Cup quarter-finals, means Tuchel in his first season has actually done worse than Unai Emery, his unloved predecessor.

Paris Saint-Germain coach Thomas Tuchel has actually done worse than his predecessor, Unai Emery
However, according to sports daily L'Equipe, Tuchel has agreed to extend his contract to 2021. Thoughts have already turned to the future, with new signings needed at the Parc des Princes.

The costly Neymar experiment cannot be said to have succeeded until he stays fit for the games that matter, and there will always be speculation about his future.

“We have a contract, we're not even halfway through that contract,” Neymar's father pointed out to RMC Sport.

Time for a clear-out? 

Mbappé is the one man they really cannot afford to lose, but is it time for a clear-out elsewhere?

Some of the excitement of the early part of the decade has gone, replaced with a staleness. The days of Thiago Silva, Edinson Cavani and Marco Verratti are maybe ending.

Youri Djorkaeff, a World Cup winner for France and a PSG star in the 1990s, offers a frank assessment, suggesting real change is needed higher up.

“If you're not great in every compartment, from the bus driver to the girls who clean the shirts, you will go nowhere,” he told Ligue 1 Podcast, 'Le Beau Jeu'.

“Paris Saint-Germain, after many years without success, have to rebuild everything, restart from scratch, because the foundations are not good. You cannot expect to one day win the Champions League without these foundations.”

The Qatar project needs a breath of fresh air, and all eyes will be on president Nasser al-Khelaifi and sporting director Antero Henrique.

UEFA's Financial Fair Play rules remain a problem, though, with PSG said to have a hole of around 100 million euros and the need to present a balanced budget by the end of June. The next few months will be interesting.

By Andy Scott/AFP