Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Thiago Motta is aware that Sunday’s Ligue 1 clash with Monaco is important for his side, but he has stressed he does not think it will be decisive.
PSG currently lie third in Le Championnat three points behind the leaders, who visit the Parc des Princes on Sunday. While a victory will not be enough to overhaul the principality side, unless it is of a truly astonishing variety, a defeat could leave their title hopes in the balance.
Monaco won the previous meeting between the clubs this term, and the Italy international is aware of the threat they carry.
“It's a very important match, it's true,” he told Goal. “We’re going to play at home and we have often suffered against this team, but it is not crucial. If we win, it’s a big blow to Monaco, but it won’t be decisive.”
Under Unai Emery, the 34-year-old has emerge as a mainstay of the side, and even he admits he is surprised to have been so regularly used.
“I'm really happy to be able to help the team - and the season is not over yet, I hope to keep playing like this,” he said. “We need to finish this season well because we have very high standards and we know that playing for PSG requires ambition. I'm here to win titles and I still want to do that this year.”
Midfielder Marco Verratti previously told Goal about the experienced players’ influence in the dressing room, and Motta is happy to bear the burden of making sure any new recruits know what is expected of them.
“I totally agree with Marco. The new players must understand that PSG is a club that has very great aims. We have a team with great players and new players must feel that. We help them to integrate well because if it happens, it is because we need them.
“It's true that I do not like to talk a lot but sometimes I need to. There are times when I want to send a certain message to the squad.
“I have been here for 5 years. We have managed to create a very good group that gets on well on and off the field.
“I'm important, but it's not just me. There are many players who have arrived almost at the same time and it is normal that these players have a little more influence. Everyone has his responsibilities in the locker room. I have mine.”
So what did he learn from the big clubs he has played at: Barcelona, Inter and PSG?
“In Spain, it was Barcelona’s philosophy that impressed me. Before the league season started, we did not do physical work, for example. Everything was with the ball. That's where I learned that the most important thing was the ball,” he said.
“You could do 3 hours of physical training, but nothing could replace the ball. If you have the ball, you cannot concede a goal.
“In Italy, it was mainly defensively that I made progress. All the Italian coaches I had in my career were paying attention to that.
“In France, I understood that speed was very important. Even if I do not have that in my game! I try to replace it with the mind, by trying to think about the action before the others.
“Speed is very important in France because there is not much space and the players must be very keen.”
It was in Italy, with Genoa, however, where he perhaps learned his greatest lessons.
“I arrived there at a time of my very difficult career because I had been injured for almost a year,” he said. “I hesitated a lot before leaving Barcelona to go to Italy. When I arrived, I was very surprised.
“I was at Genoa, a club less known than Barcelona, but with a coach, Gian-Piero Gasperini, who helped me a lot. He was always trying new things. That's when I learned the most in my career.
“Mentally, I grew up, but it was on the pitch that I made the greatest progress. I understood why it was necessary to take a step to the right and not to the left on the field. Small details that improved my level.
“Gasperini gave me a lot of confidence, he always believed in my abilities. It was a privilege for me to have been his player.”
Motta has enjoyed a well-travelled career and admits that one day he might like to go into coaching – but not just yet.
“I still think like a gambler. I feel like a player. Physically, I feel good to continue. I will finish this season and we will see the future in the end,” he said.
“Since I was little, I’ve been interested in the game. I’ve taken things from each of my clubs.
“To stay at this level for so long, there is no secret: listen, learn, work. Every day. With each coach. Every teammate.
“I'm not the only one here, but I like to understand what to do on the field and not just repeat things like a robot. I try to pass this on to others as a player. I do not need to be a coach for that.”
Indeed, such is the commitment the midfielder has to his craft, he ensures he keeps himself in top condition away from the field.
“It’s very important. You do not reach the very high level by chance,” he said. “Football does not stop at what we do on the pitch. There are things we must do away from it.
“Each player must think about what he needs to feel good on the pitch. That has always been my thought. I always tried to understand what my body was asking for.
“I hope that my health will last because I still have the same pleasure playing football at 34-years-old that I did when I was small.”