Lucas Moura relishing Monaco threat
Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Lucas Moura has welcomed the emergence of Monaco as serious title challengers as he believes it will only improve the Ligue 1 champions.
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Lucas, 20, joined PSG halfway through last season from Sao Paulo, and featured in Laurent Blanc's first starting XI as the club began their title defence with a 1-1 draw at Montpellier last week.
Monaco's massive summer spending splurge, which has seen them add the likes of Radamel Falcao and Joao Moutinho to their ranks, means retaining the French crown will be tougher than PSG might have expected.
However, the Brazil international told BeIN Sport the principality club's overnight transformation from Ligue 2 champions into top-flight contenders will merely spur PSG to greater heights.
"They're a great team, with great players,” he said. “It's good for Ligue 1 and for PSG because they're going to push us to be better. They're a big rival."
Like Monaco, PSG have also moved to bring in a number of new signings this summer in the shape of Edinson Cavani, Marquinhos and Lucas Digne.
"They're settling in quickly. I didn't know Marquinhos, but he's already become a friend. Lucas Digne, I played against him at the Parc des Princes and it was difficult. He's also a very good player," said Lucas, who is well aware of the difficulties of settling into a new environment after swapping Sao Paulo for Paris last winter.
"It was a bit difficult to adapt at the start, but the Brazilians helped me a lot,” he said. “Now I want to show what I'm capable of. I want to play going forward and make the difference.
“Laurent Blanc has not promised me a starting place, I know that I have to work to earn my place in the side. The coach has asked me to play more towards the middle, to not restrict myself to the flanks. I also have to work defensively and tactically. I want to try and improve."
Lucas' place in the starting XI against Ajaccio on Sunday is as uncertain as that of Cavani, who was limited to a substitute appearance against Montpellier, having started his pre-season training regime late due to the Confederations Cup.
The Uruguay international could replace former Napoli team-mate Ezequiel Lavezzi and line up alongside Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the man whose 30 goals last season contributed significantly to the club's title success.
The Sweden international, who struck a hat-trick in his country's friendly victory against Norway on Wednesday, is renowned for his professionalism and demanding high standards from his team-mates.
Lucas, however, insists the towering striker has a far more friendly side to him once the final whistle sounds.
"He's not like he is on the pitch, he doesn't shout. He smiles, has fun with us,” he said. “I get on very well with him. He's not like people think he is from the outside."