Friday, August 17, 2018

Lopes: A return to Man City? My present is Monaco but the future belongs to God

SoccerNews in Ligue 1 22 Apr 2018

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Monaco star Rony Lopes insists he wants to repay the faith and win titles with the Ligue 1 side, though the former Manchester City attacker refused to rule out a return to the Etihad Stadium in the future.

Lopes has flourished in his first full season at Monaco following a loan spell with Lille, scoring 15 goals in all competitions for Leonardo Jardim’s men in 2017-18.

The 22-year-old has established himself in Monaco’s XI after Kylian Mbappe, Bernardo Silva, Benjamin Mendy and Tiemoue Bakayoko left the Principality team following their shock Ligue 1 success in 2016-17.

But Lopes’ connection to Premier League champions City runs deep as some of his family still live in Manchester – where the Brazilian-born Portugal international arrived from Benfica in 2011 – despite him swapping England for France in 2015.

“I return to Manchester every time I can. My mother and brother still live there, so the connection is close,” Lopes said in an interview with Omnisport when asked if he has unfinished business at City, who signed Silva and Mendy in the off-season.

“I had a great time at the club and managed to graduate at the Etihad, but my present is in Monaco. They invested and believed a lot in me, so my intention is to give back and win titles here.

“About the future… the future belongs to God.

“I have many friends in Manchester City so that I’m always up to date with the club. Great memories. And I also developed a connection with City fans, I see myself as one of them and they keep on cheering and supporting me wherever I go. It’s a great feeling.”

Lopes has been one of Ligue 1’s star performers this season, his 13 league goals second only at Monaco to Radamel Falcao (18).

“It feels that hard work does pay off,” Lopes said. “I started the season with high expectations and with the feeling it would be decisive for my career. I felt I had to prove what I am capable of and fortunately I’m doing well at Monaco.

“I do think that expectations were exceeded because when I reach some goals, I immediately set new, more ambitious ones. So far, so good, but still games to play and points to win.”

The form of Lopes has him firmly in the equation to represent European champions Portugal at the World Cup in Russia.

Asked about his World Cup hopes, having made his international debut against the United States in November, Lopes said: “Obviously the World Cup is a dream. This idea motivates me to keep doing my job in Monaco and I know that if I help my club to achieve our objectives, I will be closer to being called to the national team.

“But I’m also aware of the quality of our current players and how hard it is to be part of the squad that became European champions just a couple of years ago. I keep my feet on the ground and take a step at a time. But of course, that doesn’t prevent me from dreaming.”

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