Liverpool’s Brazilian midfielder, Lucas Leiva, has signed a new long-term contract with the club. The 26-year-old, who came to Merseyside from Gremio in 2007, endured a tough first few years to his Anfield career. Since then, however, the 2010-2011 fans’ player of the year has become a mainstay of Liverpool’s midfield, despite having suffered a number of long term injuries.
Ian Ayre, the club’s managing director paid tribute to Lucas’ work during his rehabilitation and expressed his delight at the midfielder’s decision. "It's fantastic. He has been such a great servant to the club and I think during the period he went through with his two injuries, he put so much work into it and the club supported him through it.” Despite only being 26, Ayre feels that Lucas “in footballing terms [is] experienced and a big part of the team”.
Likewise the Brazilian, who has made 20 appearances for his country and whose performances have warranted comparisons to Xavi Hernandez and his compatriot Dunga, revealed that "I am really delighted to have the opportunity to play for this club. It's where I think I belong and where I wanted to stay, so I am very happy and looking forward to a few more years here.
"It was an easy decision because after the long period of my career I have had here, I would like to give the best of my time to this club”.
Despite nearing the end of his sixth season at Liverpool, Lucas also admitted that although “it’s another long-term contract that I have signed…it was the same feeling as when I came here.”
The news will please Liverpool fans who, with their club likely to miss out on European football next season as well as heading towards their worst sequence of league finishes for two decades, have had to listen to speculation surrounding the future of some of their major names.
Indeed, Ayre was quick to reassure any supporters’ concerns, telling the club website that “we said throughout last summer and January, we wanted to keep our best, experienced players, and this is another great example of that.”