Le50 2016: Alexis Blin – Toulouse FC

BLIN

A quick glance at the Ligue 1 table is enough for one to realise that things have not gone according to plan this year for Toulouse FC. Following managerial upheaval and squad changes, life in France’s top-flight this season has been difficult for the men from the south-west and the threat of relegation has been a constant reality.

However, the club’s ability to introduce players from its respected youth academy – which has flourished under Rémy Loret’s directorship – into the first-team set-up has been an extremely positive dimension to what has been a stressful campaign. One such player is Alexis Blin.

Although he made his first-team debut last season against Lyon, Blin’s real rise to prominence has come during the current Ligue 1 campaign. The 19-year-old, who joined TFC’s youth ranks in 2013 following the liquidation of his hometown club Le Mans, has been a regular feature in both cup and league competition, making over 20 appearances in total so far.

As a result of his strong performances in the latter half of last season, Blin was selected to make his debut for France U19s and he has since gone on to represent the U20 side, scoring from a long-range effort against England in November. His displays for both club and country impressed the TFC directors enough to award the promising player with a first professional contract last year, and as a result he will wear the purple jersey until at least 2018, should he decide to remain at the club.

Blin is a confident holding midfielder, whose performances since he made his debut last year have demonstrated an impressive level of comfort in adapting to life in Ligue 1. He has made the transition from playing with the club’s reserve group in the CFA 2 fairly seamlessly and as a result he is a great asset for the club to have within its squad.

Toulouse have played a lot of games this season on the back foot, and Blin’s concentration and ability to intercept have been of paramount importance when sitting in front of his side’s back four. Although he is primarily right-footed, he seems confident in tackling with either foot and this is important when he drops in to cover for full-backs who have pushed higher up the pitch. This, combined with his ability to track back, helps to weaken the extent to which opposition wingers and full-backs can overlap effectively.

Blin’s height, natural strength and sense of timing have enabled him to develop a well-earned reputation as talented defensive midfielder, however there’s more to the 19year-old’s game than the type of defensive work ethic you’d expect from a holding midfielder. Although he has yet to make his mark on the scoresheet for his club, Blin has shown a willingness within the French international set-up to venture further forward into a more central midfield role.

This was evident in the qualifying for the Under-19 2015 UEFA European Championships, when Blin opened the scoring for France with a clever header in a first-round match with Austria.

The remainder of the current campaign is likely to be marked by uncertainty for Toulouse. However, the club and its supporters should be proud of its progressive youth development policy, and in the long-term this could enable TFC to maintain a strong future. Regardless of where Le Téfécé finish this season, Alexis Blin is one to watch.

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