Laurent Blanc is new PSG coach as Ancelotti leaves

Laurent Blanc stepped down as France's manager after Les Bleus lost in the Euro 2012 quarterfinals.
Franck Fife/AFP/Getty Images

PARIS (AP) -- Former France coach Laurent Blanc is back in management to take over Paris Saint-Germain, with Carlo Ancelotti leaving the French champion to revive the fortunes of Spanish giant Real Madrid.

Last season, Ancelotti led PSG to its first league title since 1994 but said several weeks ago he wanted to leave the club after being linked with Madrid.

After reportedly trying to lure the likes of Fabio Capello, Andre Villas-Boas, Rafael Benitez and other high-profile managers, PSG finally opted to give Blanc a two-year contract on Tuesday.

Blanc stepped down from his position as France manager after last year's European Championship.

"The board of Paris Saint-Germain has given Laurent Blanc the mission to build on last season and to continue the club's ascendency towards the summits of the European game,'' the club said in a statement, adding that the 47-year-old will take charge for the first day of preseason training on Monday.

Blanc's two-year tenure as national team coach began promisingly as he picked up the pieces of France's shambolic 2010 World Cup campaign - where the players shocked a nation by going on strike at training - and entered Euro 2012 on the back of a 21-match unbeaten run.

But the tournament was punctuated by indiscipline among players, a poor performance in the 2-0 defeat to Sweden in the final group game, and ended with another lackluster 2-0 defeat to eventual champion Spain in the quarterfinals.

Blanc was linked with a move to Italian club Roma, but that seat was recently taken by former Lille boss Rudi Garcia, leaving Blanc as the No. 1 target after PSG's other choices fell through.

Blanc coached Bordeaux to the French title in 2009, ending Lyon's long spell of dominance in French football, and also won the League Cup that season. The following season was more difficult and, after Raymond Domenech's ill-fated reign as France coach ended in South Africa, Blanc took over.

As a player, Blanc started out as an attacking midfielder before becoming a ball-playing center half whose strong point was his reading of the game, positional sense, and crisp passing. He was a key player for France when it won the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000.

Although Blanc has been given a two-year contract, the second year of it is reportedly an optional year as the club's hierarchy keep an eye on the situation at English club Arsenal, where Arsene Wenger has one season left to run on his contract. Wenger has long been a favorite of PSG's cash-rich Qatari-based owners, QSI.

PSG spent lavishly in the past two seasons, with an outlay of around 260 million euros to secure big names like striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic and center back Thiago Silva from AC Milan.

Despite having a wealth of talent at his disposal, Ancelotti struggled to get PSG to play as a unit and never went beyond the quarterfinals of any domestic cup competition, much to the disappointment of the club's owners, who demanded silverware.

When Ancelotti joined the club during the winter break of the 2011-12 season, replacing Antoine Kombouare, PSG held a three-point lead over Montpellier, only to lose the league title by three points in one of the biggest upsets in the history of French football.

PSG recovered from that blow to win the league last season, finishing eight points clear of Marseille, despite a mid-season rocky patch that led to Ancelotti openly questioning the commitment of his players.

Ancelotti takes over at Madrid from Jose Mourinho, whose three-year spell in charge ended in acrimony as he failed to win a single trophy last season and fell out with leading players.

The well-liked Italian is expected to rebuild the trust in the dressing room, as well as start winning trophies again. Madrid finished a massive 15 points behind champion Barcelona last season.

Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide - from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Seth Davis, and more - delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.