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Jan 24, 2013

Lugano: I suffered at PSG

Diego Lugano has admitted he "suffered a lot" during his ill-fated spell at Paris Saint-Germain, and revealed he has not spoken to coach Carlo Ancelotti for eight months.

Lugano, 32, completed a six-month loan move this week to Malaga, where he hopes to re-launch his career after a tortuous spell at the Parc des Princes. Signed from Fenerbahce in the summer of 2011, the Uruguay international captain featured in just 21 games last season and has not played a single minute in the current campaign.

"Psychologically, my spell in Paris was sometimes very strange. There were times when I suffered a lot. At Malaga, I'm going to forget all about that. I'd ended up losing patience in Paris," Lugano told L'Equipe. "I would never have thought I would endure such a situation. I didn't understand how I couldn't have played a single minute.

"I've always respected the coach's decisions, because it was also a way of respecting my team-mates who were in the side. It's just a shame the club didn't tell me they weren't counting on me last summer. I only understood that at the end of August when I was left off the Champions League squad list. If I'd known that earlier, I would have asked to leave. But it was too late. Because of that, I've lost almost six months."

Despite the sour end to his stay in the French capital, Lugano insisted he holds no grudge against Ancelotti or the club's sporting director Leonardo, saying he was just as much to blame for his predicament.

"I have to say I never had a problem with the coach nor Leonardo," Lugano said. "With the coach, we spent eight months practically without speaking to each other. That was our mistake, both mine and his. Perhaps he didn't understand my situation, and I'm not the type of player to go looking for explanations."

Though increasingly unhappy at PSG, the real catalyst for Lugano to look for a way out came thousands of kilometres away on the other side of the Atlantic. A mainstay of the national side, the commanding defender revealed his Uruguay team-mates had urged him to seek a new club in a bid to help their nation's faltering 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign.

"The decisive moment didn't come from a chat with the national team coach, but with my team-mates in the Uruguay team. In October, we had two defeats in Argentina and Bolivia in 2014 World Cup qualifiers. The players came to me and said, 'Change club, please. You have to go to a team where you'll maintain the rhythm of competition'. That was a very important moment, a great sign of their confidence in me, but also tremendous pressure in terms of my situation in my club."

Though he had barely used him in his year-long reign at the helm of PSG, Ancelotti recently praised Lugano's "professional and serious" attitude, and held him up as "a good lesson for the team". The player believes the fact he continued to work hard in training has helped compensate for his lack of competitive football.

"I've always trained with the idea of keeping in shape, and to show that I hadn't given up hope. Having played with the national team has helped, but of course, after several months without a match, I don't imagine I'm at 100%," he said, adding Malaga coach Manuel Pellegrini had given him no guarantees over playing time in Spain.

"The coach can't promise that, but if you recruit a player in the middle of a season it's because you want to use him. So I think I'll play some games, though I'm coming into a strong team in which the two centre-backs have been used a lot."

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