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Reds midfielder Lucas Leiva has explained why the development he has undertaken since joining the club six years ago has moulded the Brazilian into 'a more complete player'.
The midfielder arrived at Anfield from Gremio in 2007 with a reputation as a player who could influence proceedings at the front end of the pitch.
His career took a different path with Liverpool, however, as former boss Rafael Benitez regularly deployed the No.21 in a defensive holding position.
In learning that role and becoming a popular figure on the Kop under Kenny Dalglish and now Brendan Rodgers, Lucas believes his game has hugely improved.
He told FIFA.com: "I was 20 when I arrived in English football back in 2007. I was coming from Gremio, where I'd already had first-team football.
"I felt as if I was moving at 50km/hour while everyone else on the field was at 100. I wasn't prepared for that and needed to develop both physically and tactically.
"That's why many players choose not to go directly from Brazil to England. In Spain and Portugal, and even in Italy, the pace of the game is different.
"So much so, in fact, that early on I performed better in Champions League games than in the Premiership. In terms of the speed of the game, it was like going from one extreme to the other.
"With Gremio I carried an element of surprise, and on many occasions operated practically as a central midfielder.
"However, due to the pace of the Premier League, I changed positions. Even though I was 20, I couldn't cope with the demands of joining the attacks and tracking back all game long.
"Benitez soon realised that I felt more comfortable playing in a deeper role, winning back possession and starting attacks.
"Nowadays I'm so comfortable with this position that it feels like I've always operated in it.
"I am, without question, a more complete player now because, should the match scenario require it, I can even play a more attacking role."
Despite their importance to Rodgers' project at domestic level, Lucas and compatriot Philippe Coutinho have been conspicuous by their absence in recent Brazil squads.
With the five-time world champions set to host the World Cup next summer, the 26-year-old has not given up hope of once again wearing the bright yellow jersey.
Lucas added: "Of course I think about that and it upsets me. I think to myself: I was so much part of the Seleção - I seemed to be guaranteed a berth.
"Naturally, the injury affected that process, but I don't want to give up as I've always been clear that this is something I want to achieve in my career.
"Anyone who has been part of the national team always wants to go back. It's such a great thing.
"I know the nucleus of the team is pretty much there and the chances of breaking into the side are slim.
"That said, I'm still hopeful I'll get another opportunity at least, especially if I can help Liverpool have a good campaign. I know it will be difficult, but I'll keep on believing."
Author: @shawct Tagged:
, lucas leiva
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