Blas key for Nantes in French Cup

The hero of last year's French Cup triumph for Nantes, Ludovic Blas hopes for a repeat success on Saturday against Toulouse as he nears the end of what is likely his final season with the Canaries.

On the cusp of leaving last summer, Blas has led Nantes to within potentially 90 minutes of retaining their title after his brilliant winner against Lyon sealed a return to the final.

The attacking midfielder still has a year to run on his contract, but a move — elsewhere in France or abroad — beckons for a player ready to make the step up from a club fighting for their Ligue 1 survival.

The 25-year-old is Nantes' leading scorer, alongside Egypt international Mostafa Mohamed, for the third season running, and struck the only goal in last year's final against Nice.

His second-half penalty at the Stade de France last May secured Nantes their first major silverware since the club won the last of their eight French league crowns in 2001.

"Once you have this cup in your hands you want to keep it. So the goal is to keep it and for as long as possible," Blas told TF1 in a recent interview.

He also opened up on the aborted August transfer to Lille, which Nantes coach Antoine Kombouare strongly opposed, admitting the uncertainty over his future had been unsettling.

"It wasn't the desire to leave that I needed time to get over, it was the situation," said Blas.

"When you tell me things, I will follow you and when you tell me, I will give everything. It was me who went to go see the coach to tell him I was 100 percent invested."

Blas joined from Guingamp in 2019 months after helping the modest Brittany club reach the League Cup final, and quickly established himself as a central figure in the Nantes team.

Only Lionel Messi has successfully completed more dribbles in Ligue 1 this season than Blas, who admits to drawing inspiration from another ex-Barcelona star Ronaldinho.

But with Blas out of contract next year and reportedly no talks over an extension, Nantes could look to cash in one of their prized assets who still harbours ambition of breaking into the France squad.

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