Photo credit: AFP

Paris St-Germain said Thursday that coach Laurent Blanc has extended his contract until 2018, giving him a free rein for the tough Champions League campaign ahead.

Blanc’s current deal runs out at the end of the season and the club’s wealthy Qatari owners moved to tie in the 50-year-old to a new contract without waiting to see how the side do in looming decisive Champions League clashes.

Paris play Chelsea in the last 16, with the first leg next week.

“Quite simply, we need to look to the future, that’s the way I see it,” said Blanc after the new deal, which he called “a strong show of faith.”

“I’m very happy, also for my staff. A coach is nothing without his staff. For us, continuing the adventure is a show of faith but also a big responsibility.

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“The club has ambitions both nationally and in Europe, and we’ll do all we can to reach those objectives.

“We’ll get there; we’re ready. We’re aware that we’re at a big club where expectations are very high.”

“Laurent Blanc is now tied to the capital’s club until 30 June, 2018,” PSG said.

Paris won the league, French Cup, and league cup last year and are on course to repeat the feat this year.

They have not lost a game in domestic competition for seven months and beat Lyon 3-0 on Wednesday to reach the French Cup quarter finals.

The club said Blanc signed his new deal just before the match.

But the Champions League is the trophy that Paris owner Nasser Al-Khelaifi wants and the announcement surprised some.

Paris are seeking their first-ever Champions League crown after bowing out at the quarter-final stage for the past three seasons.

SEE MORE: PSG is one breakthrough away from a place among the all-time greats.

Al-Khelaifi said in a French newspaper interview in December that he considers Blanc to be “one of the best coaches in the world.”

And in announcing the new deal, he said he was “extremely proud and happy” with the extension.

“It was important to us that he be a continuing part of Paris Saint-Germain’s plans. He has obtained excellent results since his arrival. He has already won eight trophies with us, which is quite simply formidable.

“Also, I like our team’s playing style, a style that he has instilled.”

Blanc has shown in his handling of the temperamental big-salary stars such as Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Edinson Cavani and David Luiz that he can be firm while encouraging their talent.

Former France international Blanc arrived at PSG in 2013 after Italian Carlo Ancelotti left for Real Madrid, despite the initial reservations of the Qatari owners who wanted a bigger-name.

But Blanc had his contract extended in 2014, and has so far won eight trophies with the Parisians, last year taking the three key titles as well as France’s Super Cup.

PSG are riding high in the French top-flight this season, with a lead of 24 points over nearest rivals Monaco with only 13 more matches to play.