It’s been a rather torrid season for Nantes as they not only suffered the ignominy of a humiliating 5-1 loss to Toulouse in the Coupe de France final but they also find themselves well and truly in a relegation battle. One source of positivity though, has been the performances of captain Ludovic Blas who has impressed, despite the current situation his team find themselves in.
As we can see in the heatmap and position graphic above, this season Antoine Kombouaré has primarily used a 4-2-3-1, 4-4-2 or 4-1-4-1 formation and has mostly utilised Blas in a right sided midfielder or winger role. One of the main reasons for this being his wonderful ability to drift into the penalty area rather unnoticed from out wide.
As shown in the image above, Blas is incredibly astute and shows good reading of the game as he assesses what his teammates are doing. He then demonstrates excellent off the ball movement by making a darting run to the far post where he is able score his seventh Ligue 1 goal of the season. Moreover, the Nantes captain’s off the ball movement can be seen in the image below, he has a wonderful ability to make inverted runs and take up positions in the half spaces which allows him to make perfectly timed runs in behind the defensive line.
Blas is a constant goal threat for his team, as he has some tactical freedom to use the half spaces, it allows him to be in the vicinity of the penalty area frequently and on hand to pose a goalscoring threat. In this sequence of play, Blas exploits the half space and uses the gap in between the two defenders to make a run into the penalty area, as the cross comes into the box, the Nantes forward plays a deft flick into the path of Blas who is able to slot it into the net with ease.
His technical abilities are superb; firstly, he has an excellent passing range which is incredibly useful when Nantes are looking to transition from defence to attack quickly. With a pass accuracy rating of 83% so far this season, it’s fair to say that he is pretty reliable when passing the ball. He has good vision and is able to utilise this well when looking to play progressive passes through the lines to teammates. Furthermore, Blas is chief set piece taker for Nantes and has racked up 7 assists so far this season in all competitions.
He is a very agile and quick player, with excellent acceleration and top speed. He has great control of the ball and is able to dribble past defenders with ease. Although primarily left footed, he is also comfortable using both feet, which makes him unpredictable and difficult to defend against. Blas is also an excellent shooter, with a powerful and accurate shot from distance. He is able to score goals from outside the box, and is always looking to get into scoring positions in and around the penalty area.
Additionally, Ludovic Blas possesses good physicality, standing at 180cm, he is fairly tall yet he does struggle aerially, having won only 30% of his aerial duels so far this season. However, he does have a great work ethic and frequently leads by example with his tracking back and engaging in duels both offensively and defensively, he is a tireless runner in midfield.
The pizza charts here demonstrate Ludo’s abilities compared to fellow players in the T5 leagues using data from FBRef. He is a very creative player who arguably could play very well as a ’10’ as he is able to find pockets of space and utilise them very well. He possesses great close control and is able to consistently take on opponents and play quality passes through the lines or from out wide.
This season, he has put is some real ‘captain’s performances’ for his club, dragging them through games when others seemed to have given up. Should Nantes be relegated, Blas will not be short of suitors from Ligue 1, it’s possible that a team such as Lens or Olympique Lyonnais could make a move for him. At 25, the time has come for him to take the next step in his career, wherever Ludovic Blas plays his football next season, they will unquestionably be inheriting a quality player.