Paris Saint-Germain news

Ibra pleased with PSG's use of youth

December 11, 2013
By Ian Holyman, France Correspondent

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has praised Laurent Blanc for giving young talents the opportunity to flourish alongside Paris Saint-Germain's world-renowned stars.

Adrien Rabiot
GettyImagesAdrien Rabiot played for PSG against Benfica on Tuesday.

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Ibrahimovic, 32, has seen the likes of Adrien Rabiot, 18, earn themselves a place in the first-team squad while highly-rated French under-21 international full-back Lucas Digne, 20, and even youth academy products such as Hervin Ongenda have found themselves on the pitch this season.

With top spot in their Champions League group already assured, Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva were rested for Tuesday evening's 2-1 Champions League defeat at Benfica and watched on as 22-year-old Kalifa Traore made his first senior start, reinforcing Blanc's strategy of blooding fresh talent.

"Our squad is a good mix of experience and youth," Ibrahimovic told the club's official magazine, 100% PSG. "On the pitch, you don't just have experienced players. The coach has the intelligence to give younger players a chance. The result is that they seize their opportunity and participate fully in the team's success."

Though only 21, Marco Verratti has already become a focal point of PSG's play, and Ibrahimovic sees the partnership he forms with fellow Italy international Thiago Motta, 31, as a cornerstone of Blanc's team.

"Everyone everywhere knows of his talent already. Everyone knows how important he is for the balance of the team. I'm really in admiration of the partnership he forms with Thiago Motta. I've rarely seen a connection as powerful as that between two midfielders," the former AC Milan forward said, before also heaping praise on Rabiot.

"He takes your breath away every time he plays, and it won't be long before he's called up for the senior national team."

Rabiot played alongside Motta in midfield in Lisbon as PSG slipped to their first loss of the group stage.

However, Motta, who captained the side in the Portuguese capital, told Le Parisien it will be the team's more seasoned campaigners who will be the major driving force behind the French champions' bid to return to Lisbon for the Champions League final next May.

He said: "We're serious contenders to win the Champions League. We have experienced players and we're capable of going all the way, but other teams are too. It won't be easy."

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