Rafael Benitez believes Lucas Leiva can help fill the gap left by Xabi Alonso's departure - and the Brazilian youngster agrees.
The Liverpool boss believes Lucas has been the club's most impressive player during pre-season, and the 22 year-old underlined that with a goal and an eye-catching display in Saturday's 2-1 home friendly defeat to Atletico Madrid.
Kop fans are still disappointed that Alonso has left, even if Liverpool have got £30million from Real Madrid for the Spain international.
And Benitez is aware the more adventurous Alberto Aquilani, bought from Roma for £20m last Friday, is not yet ready to replace Alonso in midfield, paving the way for Lucas to make his mark.
He said: "Lucas has been best the player in pre-season. He showed why again against Atletico. He is really focused, working hard and is showing quality.
"He knows Aquilani will need time. When we decided to bring in Aquilani we knew he would be out for one month or so, so we analysed the squad and we think that with Javier Mascherano, Lucas, Steven Gerrard and Damien Plessis we have enough (strength in depth)."
For Lucas, this is a great chance to win over the Anfield fans, who dished out plenty of criticism last season.
Lucas said: "I am always ready and now Xabi is gone I hope there will be more opportunities for me.
"I am just working hard in training to try to earn a position in the team.
"I have played a lot of minutes in pre-season and that has given me more confidence. I am feeling better and hopefully it will be a good season for me."
Benitez always supported Lucas last season when he was suffering at the hands of frustrated fans, who showed their displeasure as Liverpool threw away plenty of home points.
Lucas took the brunt of that criticism, but despite suggestions he is interested in returning home to play for Corinthians, his performances have improved and he could become a key component in Benitez's midfield.
Lucas added: "I want to play every week but I know Liverpool have a strong squad. I just have to wait and respect whatever decisions 'Rafa' makes.
He added: "Everyone was really sad to see Xabi go because he had been here a long time.
"Last season he was one of the club's best players but he has a plan for himself and his career. We have to respect that.
"We will continue to support him because he is a friend of ours. I hope he does well at Real and I am sure he hopes we continue to do well here.
"We will miss him of course but I think we can cope without him. We did not play all the games last season with Xabi, and still finished runners-up.
"He is a really good player but we also have a lot of other quality players here."Reuse content