Lucas Leiva signs new Liverpool deal

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The Independent Football

Liverpool midfielder Lucas Leiva has signed a new long-term contract with the club.

The Brazil international is currently enjoying his best season in a red shirt since arriving from Gremio in the summer of 2007 for £5million.

Lucas has grown in stature as a central midfielder following the departure of Xabi Alonso and Javier Mascherano in recent seasons and made his 100th Premier League appearance against Wigan in February.

With the 24-year-old's previous contract having only just over a year to run and continued speculation about Liverpool renewing their interest in Blackpool's Charlie Adam in the summer, there had been suggestions Lucas could be on his way out.

Only this week he was linked with Serie A side Napoli but the likeable Brazilian always insisted he wanted to remain at Anfield and he has got his wish.

Today's revelation comes on the back of news the club's Ryton training ground has been mortgaged for around £1million to help pay off debts, while Coventry's transfer embargo remains in force.

But looking forward, Dulieu and his fellow board members were clear in their vision of where they wish to take Coventry.

Dulieu insists the club have no intention of going into administration, while director and the face of SISU Onye Igwe stressed the owners are "totally committed to supporting the club", a club which is not for sale.

City's new board plan to seek out additional funding - while the immediate aim is to secure the struggling managerless club's Championship status after a run of one win in 18 matches has left them dangerously close to the relegation places.

Crucially, the new board also plan to acquire the Ricoh Arena - in which they are currently merely tenants.

The stadium is run and managed by Arena Coventry Ltd (ACL), a joint venture company consisting of Coventry City Council and the Alan Edward Higgs Charity.

Dulieu said: "I do not know how many football clubs of the 92 up and down the country do not own their stadium but I think it is a mistake for any football club not to own their stadium.

"Our role is not only to raise money for the funding of the club, the players and the team going forward, but also to acquire this fantastic stadium.

"We will do all we can, hopefully with the support of ACL who run the stadium and the council to acquire this fantastic venue."

Meanwhile, Dulieu also revealed caretaker management duo Andy Thorn and Steve Harrison have thrown their hat into the ring for the position on a permanent basis.

Manager Kenny Dalglish praised Lucas, who just over a week ago was celebrating the birth of his son Pedro, not only for his work on his pitch but his attitude off it.

"He is a smashing lad to have around the football club but he hasn't been signed for that, he has been signed because of what he does on the pitch," said the Scot.

"Certainly since I came in he has been a great asset to the team and has done tremendously well.

"He's got wee Pedro to look after and now a new contract as well, and we're delighted for him because he's a really honest, genuine fella and that's reflected in the way he plays.

"He's happy to be here and play for the club and he's getting everything that he deserves at the moment - including being a fixture in the Brazilian team - because of what he's done on the pitch."

Director of football Damien Comolli conducted the contract negotiations, revealing Lucas' was a priority for him when he joined the club in November.

"One of the first things I did after I arrived was to look at the contract situation and to see where Lucas was at," said the Frenchman.

"I knew we had to do something quickly because we couldn't afford to lose him and didn't want to lose him.

"He is exactly what we want. He has the right mentality, quality and attitude.

"He understands what this club is all about and even though the discussions went on for quite a long time he always said to me 'I want to stay and we need to find a solution'.

"He could have gone to many clubs because he is highly rated around Europe, but he always said he wanted to play for Liverpool."

Dalglish had some more good news on the fitness of captain Steven Gerrard, whose rehabilitation from a groin operation on March 10 appears to be ahead of schedule.

However, he revealed the recovery of defenders Fabio Aurelio and Martin Kelly from hamstring injuries had gone the other way.

"Steven's training so he has done really well to get where he is," the Scot told LFCTV.

"Fabio and Martin Kelly have had a setback with their recovery but Jonjo Shelvey is back training.

"Everyone has come back from the international matches and so far we have not had any injuries reported."