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It is usually the players up top who earn the plaudits for a team’s success. Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s 30 goals in Ligue 1 this season is unparalleled in recent times, matching a tally set by Jean-Pierre Papin 23 years ago for Marseille. He has been instrumental in helping Paris Saint-Germain becoming the champions of France and deserves every single word of praise that is directed towards him. For me however he has just been shaded by a player in the centre of midfield who has played every single game with maximum effort, desire and professionalism. Blaise Matuidi is 1970 PSG’s player of the season.
I wrote an article on him a few weeks back underlining just how important he has been to the team. It is no coincidence that he has practically played every single game this season; although, he did not start the opener to Lorient last August where we were 2-0 down at half-time. Zlatan got an all-important brace to save our blushes from an opening defeat after a summer of spending millions on new talent. One of the key reasons why we struggled in that opening game is that we failed to settle into any sort of rhythm. Our play in the middle of the park was slack and there was no real impetus to press forward. Next game against Ajaccio – which also ended in a draw – Matuidi came into the midfield from the start and has not looked back since. He has been ever present in the team and has been one of Carlo Ancelotti’s first names on his team sheet – if not the first.
His energetic style of play on the left-hand side of central midfield has set the tone for the rest of his peers. Always tracking back, breaking up the play whilst distributing the ball out to one of the attacking trio or quartet as quickly as possible. In truth, whether it has been a 4-3-3 or 4-4-2, Matuidi’s duties have never altered. He is the one allowed to push forward whilst the likes of Marco Verratti, Thiago Motta and Clement Chantome hang back. But his stamina is second to none and can undertake his defensive duties whilst having the capability to start a move off in the opposite direction. It is no exaggeration to say that he has become one of Europe’s most improved midfielders and he can only get better.
It is an admirable rise from a player who was not a constant starter when Carlo Ancelotti first arrived to the club in December 2011. In the remaining five months of that season he was in and out the team, frustrated by niggly injuries in the process. But, the European Cup winning coach was soon bedazzled by the player’s attitude and saw in pre-season just how good a player he had on his books. Ancelotti said of the player back in March; “I’m a little surprised (on Matuidi’s good form). But I think he’s surprised everyone. In a year-and-a-half, he’s improved his confidence and his consistency. Today, he’s as indispensable to PSG as Ibrahimovic or Thiago Silva. He’s not necessarily got great talent technically, but he has talent in terms of the heart which he puts into the game”.
I think those words pretty much sum it up. He is ‘indispensible’ to the club and will be just as important for the next campaign.
Blaise Matuidi has had the season of his life. That is why he is this website’s choice for player of the season.