Monaco's Joao Moutinho hopes 'to play in England one day'

Monaco star Joao Moutinho has told Le Parisien he still hopes to fulfil his ambition of playing in England, but that a Premier League move is not yet on the cards.

Moutinho, 30, has been a central figure in Monaco's push for the Ligue 1 title this season and their impressive Champions League form, beating Tottenham Hotspur twice to reach the round of 16 with a game to spare.

The Portugal international said he is happy in the principality, but with 18 months left on his contract, he still harbours ambitions of a move to England.

"I have always said that I'd like to play in England one day," the former Porto and Sporting Lisbon midfielder said. "But for the moment, I'm happy in Monaco. I'm going to continue giving my best until the two parties decide to go their separate ways. Right now, it's not on the agenda."

The Ligue 1 season is heading towards its midway point with Monaco just a point behind leaders Nice having scored 43 goals in just 14 games, and Moutinho is confident in their chances.

"We know who our rivals are: PSG, Lyon and Nice. It'll be close right to the end. But if we continue with the same attitude, we'll have a chance of winning Ligue 1," he said before Saturday's 4-0 win over Marseille.

"For the moment, Paris don't have the same results as in previous years. But I believe in our chances, especially because we have a better squad, more experienced than in past seasons. The summer recruitment was of very good quality with [Djibril] Sidibe, [Benjamin] Mendy, [Kamil] Glik, while also keeping the spine of the side. Falcao's return is also a real bonus."

The domestic scene is not the only one on Moutinho's mind. Monaco's group stage performances have evoked memories of the team coach Leonardo Jardim led to the quarterfinals of the Champions League in 2014-15 when they were knocked out 1-0 on aggregate by eventual runners-up Juventus.

"The league is the main objective, but we also have the means to be competitive in Europe. Look at our run two years ago. It's only because of bad luck that we were knocked out by Juventus in the quarterfinals," Moutinho said.

"It won't be easy, of course, but you always have to want to do better and believe it's possible. We want to win the league and go far in the Champions League."

That self-belief when all around were doubting them was a crucial factor in Portugal's surprise triumph in France in the summer. After an underwhelming run to the final, Portugal's ambitions of upsetting the hosts at the Stade de France were dealt a major blow with the early injury-enforced withdrawal of Cristiano Ronaldo.

Moutinho said that it was perhaps the loss of the Real Madrid star that gave his country the edge.

"We lost our captain, a very important player. No one was saying it was good news. But perhaps him going off unified us," Moutinho, who was involved in the move that led to Eder scoring the winning goal in extra time, said.

"I'm immensely proud. Proud of the team, of my country, of all the emigrants here who supported us. Since my return to Monaco, I think about it less. But in July, it was the only thing on my mind. I have even watched a few games, notably the final."