André Villas-Boas paid tribute to his match-winner at Lorient, saying Leonardo Balerdi will become one of the best centre-halves in Europe in the years to come.
A starter for Olympique de Marseille for the first time in over a month, Balerdi headed in a Florian Thauvin free-kick (54') after goalkeeper Paul Nardi misread the trajectory. Defensively, the 21-year-old on loan from Borussia Dortmund had a solid game alongside Alvaro Gonzalez as OM kept a clean sheet. More surprisingly, Balerdi had two of Marseille's three attempts on target in a match that saw him score his maiden OM goal.
Villas-Boas said: "I think he'll become one of the best centre-halves in Europe in the years to come, as he has all the qualities to do that, and little by little he is affirming himself with us."
Enough to play against Manchester City?
Despite successfully filling in for Duje Caleta-Car, the Argentinian knows he's unlikely to start against Manchester City at Orange Vélodrome on Tuesday evening as OM attempt to bounce back from losing their Matchday 1 opener at Olympiakos. Balerdi commented: "I'm training at 100%, and it will be the coach's decision."
Villas-Boas added: "For the goal, he enjoyed some luck as the goalkeeper let the ball go, but he played very well both in attack and in defence and was very sure on the ball."
Balerdi demurred: "I deserve credit too! There was wind, that's true, and the goalkeeper didn't read it well, but it still needed scoring. It ws difficult but the conditions were the same for both teams. I feel better and better every day at Marseille, and I'm very happy to be here."