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Blanc tasked with taking PSG to Europes elite
Laurent Blanc was officially confirmed as Paris Saint-Germain's new manager on Tuesday, an appointment that came with the mandate of steering the ambitious French champions towards Europe's elite.
Former French star Blanc, 47, was handed a two-year deal by the Qatari-owned club, four days after BeInSport, a television channel belonging to the club's owners, let slip news of an "agreement" between the two parties.
"The Board of Paris Saint-Germain has given Laurent Blanc the mission to build on last season and to continue the club's ascendancy towards the summits of the European game," read a statement on psg.fr.
Blanc is set to be presented to the media at a news conference on Thursday and will officially take charge of the squad on July 1 for the start of pre-season training.
The French Ligue 1 winners' announcement of his appointment came just moments before Real Madrid said that outgoing PSG boss Carlo Ancelotti would take over from Jose Mourinho at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Ironically, Ancelotti won't have to wait long before renewing acquaintances with his former employers with the clubs scheduled to play a friendly in Sweden on July 27.
However, Blanc's managerial CV pales in comparison to that of Ancelotti, whose highlights include two European titles with AC Milan and a Premier League crown with Chelsea as well as a French championship, with the Frenchman evidently not initially a leading candidate for the post.
PSG were caught off guard by Ancelotti's plea to leave the club in May and subsequently saw a host of potential successors such as Jose Mourinho, Rafael Benitez, Fabio Capello and Andre Villas-Boas land elsewhere or elect to stay put.
Blanc himself, who had been out of a job since leaving his role as coach of the French national team following their disappointing quarter-final exit at Euro 2012, had been linked with the vacant managerial post at Roma before the Serie A side opted for ex-Lille boss Rudi Garcia.
A decorated player for both club and country, with whom he won the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000, Blanc's only other professional coaching experience came at Bordeaux, where he was in charge from 2007 to 2010 and led the club to a French championship and league cup title in 2009.
He also led them to the quarter-finals of the 2009/10 Champions League, matching PSG's progress the season just finished when they bowed out on away goals despite a valiant two-legged display against Barcelona, but the man nicknamed "Le President" will be expected to take the capital club, bolstered by their considerable financial might, to the next level.
UEFA president and French great Michel Platini praised Blanc's hiring, saying: "It's a good challenge for him and it's good that PSG have a French coach.
"He has some good players, so he has a good chance to win," added Platini.
However, key to Blanc's success will be the future of Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
The Swedish striker plundered opposing defences for a league-best 30 goals last term, but there remains a question mark over his status at the club after he said in May that he would consider leaving if Ancelotti departed Paris.
Ibrahimovic, who has two years left on his contract, said last month: "When they ask me what my future will be if Carlo leaves, I know nothing, it's not (an) easy (situation)."
He also said that if Ancelotti were to leave that PSG would "need a coach who's not only going to manage a French team but an international one with world-class players. It's not easy for a manager and only a big one can come in (to take over)".
Whether Blanc fits the bill in the mind of Ibrahimovic is still to be seen, but with a new man finally at the helm, PSG can now at least turn their attention to the transfer market where they've been linked to the likes of Wayne Rooney, Edinson Cavani and even Cristiano Ronaldo.
Blanc's tenure could also be a short-lived one, though, should the club succeed in luring prime target Arsene Wenger, who has one-year left on his current deal at Arsenal, to the Parc des Princes next summer.
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