Blanc set for France post

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The Independent Football

Laurent Blanc is set to become France coach after the French Football Federation reached an agreement with Bordeaux for him to take over after the World Cup finals.

The 44-year-old left Les Girondins on Sunday after a disappointing season, prompting FFF president Jean-Pierre Escalettes to confirm Blanc as his preferred choice to succeed Raymond Domenech after the finals in South Africa.

A statement released by the federation and Bordeaux this morning read: "The French Football Federation, its president, Jean-Pierre Escalettes and Bordeaux FC, its president and shareholder, have reached an agreement for the recruitment of Laurent Blanc as the coach of the France football team."

Blanc made it clear when he stepped down with one year remaining on his contract that he intended to accept the offer from the FFF to take the reins of the national team after this summer's World Cup.

"Bordeaux have been informed by Laurent Blanc that he wanted to answer favourably to the FFF's approaches to become the France coach," the club said in a statement.

"Bordeaux expect to hear from the FFF on the question of the compensation linked to the release of their coach."

Les Girondins indicated at the weekend that they were willing to play hard ball over a compensation package before approving the deal, with president Jean-Louis Triaud saying: "I have no intention of giving gifts to the FFF."

However, the agreement reached today paves the way for Blanc to replace Domenech, who will stand down after the summer's World Cup finals in South Africa.

Bordeaux appear far from happy with how the situation has been handled, though.

In confirming Blanc's departure, the club hit out at the FFF's public courting of their man, claiming it created a rash of speculation which subsequently hurt Les Girondins' season as a second-half collapse saw them lose their Ligue 1 crown.

Triaud hit out at the FFF on Monday.

He said: "Honestly, I am convinced the federation were making plans before the end of the season.

"The media frenzy around Laurent Blanc is sure to have disturbed the squad.

"Their (the FFF's) influence was heavy in the second half of our season. That added to the team's troubles."

Triaud was prepared for Blanc's decision, but only learned that the former defender would be quitting on Sunday morning.

"I learned that Laurent Blanc wanted to respond to the FFF's offer yesterday," he said on Monday.

"We spoke in the dressing room. He met with the players and that played a part in his decision.

"It's a decision I was waiting for, it was 50-50 - so it was a half-surprise."

Blanc, who helped Les Bleus to World Cup glory in 1998 and European Championship success two years later, hung up his playing boots in 2003 after a two-year stint with Manchester United.

His top-level coaching career began four years later when he was appointed Bordeaux boss, succeeding Brazilian Ricardo.

He enjoyed an impressive first season, guiding his team to second place in Ligue 1, and was named manager of the year.

Things got even better for Blanc and his men in his second campaign at the helm as Les Girondins clinched a league and Coupe de la Ligue double.

Bordeaux looked well on course to retain the Ligue 1 crown in January when they resumed action from the winter break holding a nine-point advantage over nearest challengers Lille at the summit.

But a poor run of results in the second half of the campaign allowed Marseille, who were 11 points adrift at the mid-season interval, to claw back the deficit and claim their first league title in 18 years.