Liverpool FC midfielder Lucas Leiva has revealed that he was close to leaving Anfield when Roy Hodgson took over at the club.
The 26-year-old might be a fan favourite now, but his Liverpool career didn’t start off in such an auspiciously manner. Although he was signed by Rafa Benitez back in 2007, it is only in the last two-three seasons that he has endured himself to the Anfield faithful.
The Brazilian has now revealed that he was close to leaving England, when Roy Hodgson was appointed as the manager of the club back in 2010-11 season. The 26-year-old said that Poulsen’s arrival at the club was an indication for him that he isn’t part of Hodgson’s future plans at the club. The midfielder was subsequently linked with a move to Serie A, but the decided to stay back and fight for his place at the very last minute.
The arrival of Kenny Dalglish, after Hodgson was sacked in January of 2011, was a new beginning for Lucas and his Liverpool career. In fact he was so impressive that he was voted the fans’ player of the year for the 2010-11 season.
“I felt as though it was almost the end for me at the club,” Lucas says of time Benitez was replaced by Hodgson. “I nearly left. I knew they were looking for players. They signed Christian Poulsen at the time, and that was a message for me, that I was not really in their plans.
“So I was really close to leaving to go to Italy. For some reason I did not go, I stayed. After a few games, I got my place back in the team and I started to play a bit more. Then Kenny came in. I really started to play with a lot of confidence and at the end of the year I was voted Player of the Season by the fans. So that moment was very important.
“For me to come here and to try to get into the team competing against Gerrard, Alonso, Mascherano and Sissoko was very hard.
“I left Brazil in a really good situation and here I was sometimes not even on the bench and out of the squad. It was a difficult period for me but I think it was worth it. Today I realise how important it was for me to have that struggle because it taught me to work hard.
“I was very young coming over from Brazil to Liverpool, a massive club. I knew about the pressure but it was more than I thought and today I can see I was not ready. It was just a process. It was hard but I had to get on with it and be patient. The thing that I didn’t understand much, on the pitch, was people talking to me, so maybe that was not a bad thing and I could cope a bit more.
“A lot of people come now and say ‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry I used to doubt you and used to boo you. I’m sorry, I was wrong’.
“Maybe if I didn’t care about my career it would have been different. It could have been easy for me to say: ‘I want to go back to Brazil and play my football there.’ I had a lot of chances to leave the club through mutual consent. But I always felt that there was something saying to me that I still needed to prove something here.” – Lucas was quoted in Liverpool Echo.
The midfielder’s progress has been halted by injuries in recent times, but Lucas’ return to the team means that Liverpool’s midfield has a lot more balance to it. He might not be the most talented Brazilian around presently, but he is certainly one of the most hard working footballers in Europe at the moment. In fact for many Liverpool fans Lucas is a future captain of the club.