From Didier Deschamps to Claude Makelele, France have had their fair share of legendary midfield generals over the past few years and their current midfield star Blaise Matuidi is more than capable of emulating his illustrious predecessors in the upcoming European Championships.
Matuidi began his footballing journey at the age of 6 by joining regional side US Fontenay-sous-Bois and having shown early promise, the future midfielder would be selected for the prestigious Clairefontaine academy in 1999.
He then went on to turn professional by joining Ligue 2 outfit Troyes in 2004 and went on to play a part in the club’s promotion into the top flight. The Frenchman did help the Stade de l'Aube based outfit retain their Ligue 1 flight status in 2006 but following the club’s relegation, he moved to giants Saint-Etienne.
Always regarded very highly, it was at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard where Matuidi really managed to come into the fore. Immediately after his arrival, Matuidi helped the club earn qualification into the UEFA Cup in 2008 and as a result, caught the attention of the likes of Arsenal and Milan.
Teams he will face in the Euros
42 caps, 7 goals (As of April 16, 2016)
Romania, Albania, and Switzerland
2015/16 club record
47 matches, 4 goals, 8 assists
Premier League experience
The next few seasons were a bit tough for Matuidi though, as Saint-Etienne flirted with relegation while the midfielder, who was made club captain, got himself into unsavoury on the field incidents with teammate Dimitri Payet.
Nonetheless, all was not doom and gloom as he earned his debut for the French national team in September 2010 against Bosnia and Herzegovina.
By 2011, it had been clear that Matuidi needed to showcase his talents in the Champions League and his wish was granted when an ambitious Paris-Saint Germain came calling. Signed to replace his idol, Claude Makelele, Matuidi seemed like a perfect fit at the Parc des Princes and he has certainly managed to enjoy unprecedented success in the French capital.
In team full of superstars, Matuidi is perhaps not the most glamorous of names but he is arguably the oil which keeps the PSG machine going. Matuidi has won four consecutive Ligue 1 titles at PSG and having achieved so much at club level, he will surely be desperate to win honours for Les Bleus in July.
Style of Play
Matuidi is a midfield engine who possesses tremendous energy levels and seems to cover every blade of grass during the 90 minutes. An intelligent tackler, the PSG star possesses very strong defensive characteristics but he offers so much going forward as well.
While Matuidi may be a childhood fan of Claude Makelele, he is more of a Jean Tigana in terms of playing style.
Matuidi may not be a goalscoring midfielder but he is more than adept at carrying the ball and his driving runs helps attract a number of opposition players towards him, thus creating more space for teammates.
In addition, he is very versatile and can slot in at left back or left midfield if required and can seamlessly provide cover when someone is out of position.
A true team player, Matuidi may not command too many headlines but his importance for PSG and the French national team cannot be overstated.
Which Premier League club would he suit? Manchester United
Manchester United fans have been desperate for the club to sign world class midfielders since the retirement of Paul Scholes and to be fair, they have splashed the cash in securing the services of the likes of Morgan Schneiderlin, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Ander Herrera and Marouane Fellaini over the years.
However, none of the aforementioned names have proven their worth and it is perhaps fair to state that they are not quite the type of player United need at the middle of the park. A pass master like Scholes is impossible to find and United perhaps have to identify that they need a midfield player who can take the game by the scruff of the neck.
Matuidi is just that type of player and he would be a wonderful addition to the Manchester United side. His high energy levels and contribution at attack as well as at the back would bring much needed stability and he could provide the balance to the clearly disjointed Red Devils’ side.
Also, possessing a player such as Matuidi would provide the safety net for the attacking players to show more flair and it would indirectly help stem the dire football being played at Old Trafford.
Paris Saint-Germain – Ligue 1: 2012–13, 2013–14, 2014–15, 2015–16, Coupe de France: 2014–15, 2015–16, Coupe de la Ligue: 2013–14, 2014–15, 2015–16, Trophée des champions: 2013, 2014, 2015