Leonardo backing Blanc to succeed
After helping build a Ligue 1-winning squad at Paris Saint-Germain, Leonardo is convinced coach Laurent Blanc will have time to turn a sticky start to the new season into a successful title defence.
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Leonardo resigned as PSG's sporting director after clinching the €64 million capture of Edinson Cavani last month, adding the prolific Uruguay international to a long list of world-class talent he coaxed to the French capital in his two years in the role.
The Brazilian has now moved back to Italy, but upon his return to Paris on Thursday, he told French media that the Ligue 1 champions are never far from his thoughts.
Leonardo also insisted that Blanc, whose appointment in late June he helped manufacture, will get the patience he needs from the club's demanding Qatari owners to fit all the pieces into place after back-to-back draws to start the new campaign.
"Contrary to what has been said, PSG has always been a passion for me. During two years, I experienced some very strong emotions, intense feelings. There has been a complete transformation of the club in a very short time. A lot of things have been done, some good, some bad," Leonardo, who played for PSG during the 1996-97 season, said.
"How do you want me not to watch PSG games? It's impossible. I dream about PSG, I always think about PSG, I still speak with people at the club. PSG is still inside me. The team is fantastic. It's not serious that they've started with two draws. What's more, the team didn't play badly. Laurent is going to have the time to organise things, and the talent of the players will come through."
Leonardo was speaking in Paris where he had returned for a hearing, at the French National Olympic Committee, into his 14-month suspension from matchday activities after he barged into a referee in May.
Although the French Football Federation (FFF), who asked for the suspension to be enforced worldwide, did not send a representative to the conciliation hearing, Leonardo remains hopeful he can have the ban partly or wholly overturned -- which would free him to take up a position at a new club.
The appointed duo of arbiters are expected to produce an opinion on the matter by the end of next week, though neither of the opposing parties are obliged to adhere to it. In the meantime, Leonardo's suspension is provisionally lifted.
With his personal life now firmly based in Italy, a Serie A outfit looks the most likely beneficiary of his talents, with Inter Milan, whom he coached for six months after replacing Rafa Benitez in December 2010, his most likely destination.
"With Inter Milan, there's nothing definite. I don't know what the future holds. But the six months I spent there mean they mean a lot to me," Leonardo told Sky Italia. "I left PSG too soon, and I came back. The same thing can happen with Inter Milan. I've never talked to [prospective Inter buyer Erick] Thohir, but I am in permanent contact with Inter."