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Lucas Paqueta breaks silence on betting scandal hell that scuppered West Ham star’s £80m move to Man City

LUCAS PAQUETA has opened up for the first time on his betting scandal hell – paying tribute to the support shown by “special” David Moyes.

West Ham star Paqueta, 26, has been under an FA investigation since August over allegations of suspicious gambling activities.

Lucas Paqueta has spoken ahead of Brazil's clash with England this Saturday

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Lucas Paqueta has spoken ahead of Brazil’s clash with England this SaturdayCredit: PA
Paqueta, 26, opened up on his relationship with Hammers boss David Moyes

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Paqueta, 26, opened up on his relationship with Hammers boss David MoyesCredit: AFP

The furore prompted Manchester City to back out of a proposed £80million move for the playmaker – but they have been tipped to rekindle their interest this summer.

It also saw him left out of the Brazil squad for all six of their autumn matches, though he is now back with the Samba Boys for this month’s friendlies against England and Spain.

Paqueta revealed how tough the ordeal has been for him but praised Irons chief Moyes for his handling of the situation.

The former Lyon ace said: “In the beginning it was hard.

“But now I have grown a lot mentally and now I can live with that. I have left that behind and I can now focus on my performances.

“(Moyes) was special for me. I have a good relationship with him. And his support was important for me.

“He said he wanted me playing in the team. That confidence was very important for me.

“Without a shadow of doubt, the support he gave me to leave all this behind, it was essential.”

Paqueta’s probe relates to bets placed on the midfielder to receive a yellow card in various Premier League matches.

He denies any wrongdoing and was said to be shocked by the allegations when they first emerged – though could not elaborate on the ongoing investigation.

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The former AC Milan attacker added: “I was told not to comment on this subject.

“It’s been seven months since it happened and I’m cooperating, doing what’s in my power so that it can be resolved.”

Paqueta has managed to be one of West Ham’s star performers this term, despite the probe, netting three goals and grabbing five assists in the Premier League.

It has kept him on City’s radar who could look to exploit an alleged £85m release clause in his contract this summer – especially with Bernardo Silva’s future up in the air.

Paqueta is just relieved to be back with his Selecao team-mates after his exile earlier this season.

New boss Dorival Jnr brought the 42-cap ace straight back in for his new squad, which includes no fewer than ELEVEN uncapped players.

(Moyes) was special for me. I have a good relationship with him. And his support was important for me.

Lucas Paqueta

Manchester United midfielder Casemiro, not involved due to injury, took the time out to see his international colleagues at their Sopwell House base near St Albans.

Paqueta said: “I’m very happy to be back. I hope I can help [the youngsters] in the best way possible.

“I worked with the coach at the end of my time at Flamengo and it was an incredible experience. I’m happy to be called up for his recognition of my work.

“Being in the national team has always been my dream, so when I return I feel even more privileged.”

Paqueta will come up against West Ham team-mates past and present at Wembley on Saturday.

Irons winger Jarrod Bowen, 27, is making a great case for inclusion in England’s Euros squad with 18 goals in all competitions.

While Declan Rice, 25, is scaling new heights since his £105m switch from the London Stadium to Arsenal last summer.

Paqueta added: “I have a lot of respect for them and I am fond of them. They are very good professionals.

“Bowen is having an amazing season. I am happy to help him.

“Declan is a great player. I am sure they will do the best they can for England and I will try to do the best I can for Brazil.

“The Brazilian team will always be favourites, because of the history we have, the players we have.

“It’s going to be a great game because there are two great teams and that respect has to be there.”

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