MONACO-PSG D-3: Carvalho class still intact

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AS Monaco FC defender Ricardo Carvalho has said he always felt he would make a contribution to the Ligue 1 club's title push despite criticism in the wake of his arrival last summer.

The former Portuguese international arrived at the Stade Louis II on a free transfer having played just 17 La Liga games in the previous two seasons at Real Madrid. At 35, many thought Carvalho's best days were behind him, but the former Porto and Chelsea defender has been the cornerstone of his new club's pursuit of Paris Saint-Germain at the top of the table. He has surprised many, but not himself, as he told L'Equipe on Thursday.

"I could have signed for clubs in Dubai, Qatar or the USA, where they would have given me a two-year contract while Monaco were only offering me one. But I knew that I could have a good season here. I lost my place at Real because of a knee injury, and I wasn't able to get it back. Without injury, I know I can be good, and I never doubted that I could establish myself at Monaco. If I had doubted, I would have gone elsewhere."

He added: "I still wanted pressure. I felt that I could be good under pressure. Everyone was looking at my age, but I have confidence in myself. I have qualities, and I'm not surprised. I do what I can to help the team, which wants to improve and - for the moment - everyone is happy."

'Prefer to stay'

A cold meant Carvalho missed his first Ligue 1 game of the season last weekend as Monaco stumbled to a 2-2 draw at FC Lorient. He is, however, destined to return to the starting line-up for Sunday's mouthwatering encounter with Paris, which will give him another opportunity to impress his club's bosses and perhaps convince them to take up the option on the second year of the contract he signed last summer.

"It's not up to me. If the club brings in other players, they'll have to prove they're better than Abidal or me. I still have the legs, and it would motivate me if I stayed. I feel really good here, and I would prefer to stay rather than go to Dubai or the USA."

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