Antoine Kombouare always anticipated great things from young midfielder Ludovic Blas, but it was not until Sunday that he got the return he expected from the 20-year-old.
With half-time rapidly approaching at the home of champions Paris Saint-Germain, little Guingamp had them on the rack. Chances had come and gone, they had deserved to go in ahead, but it seemed that they were destined to go in at the break on level terms.
Step forward Blas. A cross was only half cleared by the home side and dropped perfectly for the midfielder, who hit a dreamy volley into the PSG net, the ball kissing the underside of the bar as it hammered past static goalkeeper Alphonse Areola.
It was just reward for perhaps the Bretons’ most impressive period of the season but also the moment that Blas finally broke out.
“With him, I’m always waiting,” considered head coach Antoine Kombouare in the build up to the match. “He’s going through the levels.”
The narrative had been that Blas had never truly fulfilled his potential on the professional stage. True, he had made 66 top-flight appearances before hand, but he had never shown himself to be the player that was hoped as he scored for France’s Under-19 side in a 4-0 rout of Italy in the European Championship final of 2016.
Blas, meanwhile, has had to bide his time, flitting in and out of the Guingamp side having failed to realise his potential.
“He’s very young, so it’s certainly difficult, but being consistent in several games in a row is what he misses,” team-mate Christophe Kerbrat said.
Like many young players, though, Blas has yet to find out what he is really good at. Having started life as a striker, he has been shunted to the wing, then a more central playmaking berth, but it seems that he will settle as a No.6.
“He can make the right choices and read the game well, but sometimes he has a little too much pride, which can be a good thing,” Kombouare considered. “But he must master this so that there is an effective performance for the team. It’s in the mental domain that he has to progress… he has to stay focused on the game.
“He has the qualities to be a very good player in Ligue 1, but he must prove it.”
With just three goals and two assists to his name, it is a relatively disappointing return from someone of whom so much is expected, but Blas is confident he is making progress.
“If you look at my statistics, it’s true I could be more decisive,” he said before the weekend’s match. “But if you look at my matches, you see I’m gaining experience.”
Indeed, his shooting capabilities were something of a secret weapon before he sent a cannonball into the top corner of the PSG net, though not so secret inside Guingamp’s camp.
“I’m sure he can wreak havoc with the shot that he has,” Jimmy Briand sagely predicted before the weekend.
Just as the ball threatened to burst the Parc des Princes net, Blas, more than ever before is threatening to burst onto the Ligue 1 stage. Kombouare is no longer waiting for great things from the youngster, he will expect them – and that represents an altogether tougher challenge.