Blanc: Zlatan will be a leader for PSG
Laurent Blanc has urged Zlatan Ibrahimovic to "be an example" to his Paris Saint-Germain team-mates in order to help the Ligue 1 champions achieve their lofty ambitions next season.
When Blanc, was appointed PSG coach on a two-year deal earlier this week many pundits questioned whether the man who saw his France national team squad splinter in indiscipline at Euro 2012 could handle the massive personalties, and Ibrahimovic in particular, cosseted within the PSG dressing room.
Speaking to the media at his official presentation at the Parc des Princes on Thursday afternoon, a smiling Blanc hailed the Sweden striker's approach to the game and called on last season's leading scorer to ensure it rubs off on the rest of the squad.
"He's an important player for PSG," Blanc said. "He'll need coaching just the same as the others. He's proven that he's a great player and a great professional. That's a point which I give great importance too.
"I hope he'll be an example to others. He's one of the leaders. I hope that he'll bring the standard of the others up with him, because the objectives will be very high and it'll take an exemplary professional attitude."
While the former Bordeaux coach will be at least expected to emulate predecessor Carlo Ancelotti and win the Ligue 1 title, Blanc will also need to rise to the challenge of improving on the Italian's run to the quarter-finals of last season's Champions League.
Added to that, the ex-Manchester United and France centre-back, who had been out of work since leaving Les Bleus after Euro 2012 and will bring assistant coach Jean-Louis Gasset, with him, will be required to serve up the mouth-watering style of play the club's Qatari owners crave.
"I'm very proud to coach a club like PSG. I know what awaits us. It's an exciting challenge, but a difficult one too. The staff and I will put everything we can into trying to achieve the objectives which will be set and serve up a beautiful spectacle. As you know, I like good football."
Work on that front will begin as early as next week with the PSG squad, minus the likes of Brazilian duo Lucas and Thiago Silva, who are still with their nation at the Confederations Cup, due back for pre-season training on July 1.
The eleventh-hour nature of his appointment was due to his name appearing down PSG's initial list of potential successors to Ancelotti. Blanc, however, told the press he felt no affront at having taken on a job that Andre Villas-Boas, Michael Laudrup, Fabio Capello and Guus Hiddink had all been ahead of him in the queue for.
"It is late, but the most important thing is that it's done. There is more and more a market for coaches. There's a lot of movement. It's not a problem not to be top of the list. In my playing career, it happened to me often," Blanc said before adding that further discussions were required to finalise the make-up of his backroom staff. "The most important thing is to be chosen. When that's done, you have to think about the future. That's my outlook today. I want to prepare the team well and meet the expectations which have been set for me."
Blanc's upbeat message was reflected by PSG president Nasser Al Khelaifi, who declared a record 30,000 season-tickets have been sold for the coming league campaign.
"I'm proud to be here with Laurent Blanc," said the Qatari, who praised the work of sporting director Leonardo in clinching the deal to bring Blanc in, and confirmed both Ibrahimovic and Silva would remain at the club. "We're on the right track to achieve our objectives. Let's hope the club's fourth title will come next season."