Lucas Leiva admits that Liverpool are reaping the benefits of their tough stance over Luis Suarez and his transfer request

The striker has been in good form since he returned from a 10-match ban after he tried to leave the club in the summer

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The Independent Football

Liverpool midfielder Lucas Leiva believes the club's hard-line stance with Luis Suarez over the summer is paying dividends as the striker can now fire them into the Champions League.

The Uruguay international scored his first hat-trick at Anfield, the fourth of his Reds career, against West Brom to take his tally to six in just four league matches.

And while Daniel Sturridge's form - scoring a goal in all but one of the club's nine league matches - has given them an excellent start to the campaign it is arguably Suarez's star quality will be the major factor in whether they return to Europe's elite.

The South American scored 23 league goals last season but spent most of the summer trying to manufacture a move away - even going as far as accusing the club of reneging on a deal which would allow him to join a Champions League side after Arsenal made a £40,000,001 bid.

Principal owner John Henry was categorical in his refusal to contemplate a sale and Lucas believes his form on the pitch shows Suarez has put the issue behind him.

"It shows why the club fought so hard to keep him in the summer," said the Brazil international.

"What he did last year for us and what he is doing already just shows that is why the club wanted to keep him.

"Liverpool want to keep their best players and he was the best player last year - and probably the Premier League's best player.

"We are happy he stayed with us and he is just showing every week how committed he is.

"It doesn't matter what was going on in the summer his mind now is just to help the team, to achieve great things and hopefully it will finish in a positive way in May.

"We see him every training session and we know he loves what he does and when he gets on the pitch he just tries to help, that is why we are so happy for him because he deserves what he is getting.

"No one gets goals and great performances if you don't work hard and of course he is a special talent so he it makes it easier for him."

Lucas said Suarez's Champions League ambitions were matched by his team-mates.

"I think every single player wants to play in the Champions League," he added.

"No one wants to stay at home on Tuesday and Wednesday watching the TV and not playing in the big games.

"He is probably one of the top five best players in the world so he wants to be there and that is why he is so committed with this team because he wants to put Liverpool back in the Champions League - that is what we all want.

"We are showing every week we are becoming stronger and stronger but there are a lot of games to go.

"If we keep together in difficult moments that is the most important thing.

"We just need to keep going and keep believing and try to do our best all the time."

Lucas made a successful return to the side after missing the draw at Newcastle last weekend following the birth of his second child, a daughter Valentina.

The victory capped a significant fortnight for the 26-year-old.

"For me it's probably been the best 10 days of my life," he said.

"I played for Brazil again, became a dad again and won with Liverpool and Friday night I received another call for the national team.

"After a long period when I was fighting with injuries now it is paying back and I'm happy and hope it continues during the season."

PA

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