Blaise Matuidi: ‘Monsieur Industry’ driving Paris Saint-Germain to third straight title
Paris Saint-Germain can become champions of France for a third straight season on Saturday. They need only a point at Montpellier to confirm their title. Zlatan Ibrahimovic will finish as their top scorer again, but no one has worked harder than Blaise Matuidi in driving PSG to the top.
PSG have reached two domestic cup finals and the Uefa Champions League quarter-finals, and Matuidi has started more matches this season than anyone at the club. Given his brief of bossing midfield, winning tackles, marking and launching attacks, principally down the left, that is quite an achievement. Matuidi regularly covers more ground per game than most of this teammates.
PSG coach Laurent Blanc trusts Matuidi to give his midfield energy, maturity and poise. Blanc has always had faith in Matuidi, and during Blanc’s spell as France manager he gave Matuidi, who turned 28 last month, the first of his 34 international caps, in 2010. When Blanc began at PSG in 2013, he saw Matuidi’s all-round game as crucial to his 4-3-3 formation, operating in midfield alongside the Italians Marco Verratti and Thiago Motta.
Paris at heart
Matuidi was one of the first signings by PSG in the pivotal year of 2011, when the club came under the majority ownership of Qatari investors. He quickly became popular with supporters for his obvious commitment on the pitch, but also because he grew up in the Paris suburbs. Though born in Toulouse, the son of an Angolan father and Congolese mother, the family moved to the French capital when Matuidi was six. He speaks of how he enjoyed watching the PSG of the late 1990s, especially their skilful Nigerian playmaker Jay-Jay Okocha.
Ten years in top flight
Matuidi began his professional career at Troyes, having turned down an apprenticeship at Lyon, who have been PSG’s main challengers for the league title this season. He made his debut at 17 and celebrated promotion from Ligue 2 at the end of his first senior campaign in 2004/05. When Troyes were relegated two years later, he joined Saint-Etienne, from where PSG recruited him for about €10 million (Dh42m), plus the part exchange of midfielder Jeremy Clement, to galvanise their ambitious new project. It has proved to be an excellent investment.
FOLLOW US ON TWITTER @NatSportUAE
Updated: May 15, 2015 04:00 AM