France news

Mathieu Valbuena: We can challenge

August 23, 2013
By Ian Holyman, France Correspondent

Marseille midfielder Mathieu Valbuena has told Paris Saint-Germain and Monaco that "money isn't everything" in the Ligue 1 title race.

Valbuena calm over Marseille contract talks
PA PhotosValbuena has been impressed by Monaco so far.

Champions League qualification has enabled OM, surprise runners-up last season, to be more generous in their spending this summer, with France international attacking midfielder Dimitri Payet, Tunisian forward Saber Khalifa and promising duo Giannelli Imbula and Benjamin Mendy arriving at the Stade Velodrome.

Payet has played a central role in the club's 100% start to the campaign, scoring three times in the opening two games to help Elie Baup's men keep pace with Monaco and steal a march on faltering PSG.

And Valbuena, 28, said the club could challenge for the title, adding: "Why not, even if you have to be careful what you say? Teams like Monaco and PSG have brought in so many more players than we have. But money isn't everything. We're better equipped than last year.

"Monaco have started well. Against Montpellier, they showed a lot of quality. I was surprised by their cohesion. They're a team which is ready before its time.

“There is also Paris. Even if they have stumbled, they're still favourites. Last season, they started slowly before ending up as champions."

Imbula, 20, is a doubt to face Valenciennes on Saturday after limping out of last weekend's victory over Evian with an ankle injury.

The capture of the sought-after defensive midfielder was a coup for OM, and the player's father, Willy, told 10 Sport: "He had a lot of approaches, a lot of opportunities abroad, and it really was a transfer that might not have happened had Giannelli not made the choice of OM himself.

"Everton, Sevilla and Monaco also wanted him. He wasn't short of choices, but he preferred to put the sporting aspect and playing time at the top of his list of priorities."

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