- Associated Press - Thursday, February 11, 2016

PARIS (AP) - Paris Saint-Germain coach Laurent Blanc finally got what he wanted.

Out of contract at the end of the season, Blanc has signed a new two-year deal with the three-time defending French league champion until the end of June 2018, ending speculation that he could be replaced by Jose Mourinho at the end of the season.

The former France manager was in talks with club officials for months, insisting his future should be decided before next week’s Champions League game against Chelsea.

“Of course, it’s a strong show of faith,” Blanc said. “The club has ambitions both nationally and in Europe, and we’ll do all we can to reach those objectives. We’ll get there, we’re ready.”

Blanc has already delivered what the club expected from him on the domestic stage. Since replacing Carlo Ancelotti in 2013, Blanc has guided PSG to two straight league titles, including a domestic treble last season, and has lost only six league matches.

But his richly assembled team has not been able to advance past the quarterfinals of the Champions League, the competition for which PSG’s Qatari owners are craving.

“That’s our great dream,” PSG president Nasser Al-Khela├»fi said.

Financial terms of Blanc’s new deal were not disclosed by the club but L’Equipe newspaper reported he would earn approximately the same salary, around 5 million euros ($5.6 million) per year.

PSG has a 24-point lead over second-place Monaco ahead of Saturday’s reception of Lille, and is all but guaranteed of winning the title for a fourth straight year.

Monaco travels to fourth-place Saint-Etienne in the other showcase match, and third-place Nice host Marseille in a Mediterranean derby.

Here are other things to know ahead of this weekend’s matches:


DIABY’S BACK? Former Arsenal midfielder Abou Diaby could make his Marseille debut this week.

Diaby, who has not featured in an official game in more than a year, has been included in coach Michel’s squad for a French Cup game on Thursday. Diaby might also play at Nice in the league this weekend.

“He is available and feels ready,” Michel said. “It’s a display of confidence that we’re giving him, it’s important for him.”

Diaby’s career has been ruined by injuries since he broke his ankle 10 years ago. He managed just two appearances in his final two seasons with Arsenal.

BAD TIMING: Following scintillating performances for Nice, Hatem Ben Arfa was expected to be called by France coach Didier Dechamps for games against Russia and the Netherlands next month.

But Ben Arfa, who also hopes to make the France squad for the Euros, has a hamstring injury that will sideline him for up to five weeks.

Ben Arfa has 11 goals and two assists in 24 league matches this season, and earned his first France cap in 2007. His international career stalled after a dispute with former coach Laurent Blanc at Euro 2012 but Ben Arfa was recalled by Deschamps last November for a couple of friendlies after an absence of more than three years.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times is switching its third-party commenting system from Disqus to Spot.IM. You will need to either create an account with Spot.im or if you wish to use your Disqus account look under the Conversation for the link "Have a Disqus Account?". Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More

Click to Hide