Lucas Leiva yesterday signed a contract extension that will keep him at the club past 2015, which was when his current deal was set to expire. What is interesting is that Lucas has played just 40 league games since signing his last contract with the club, thanks to knee and thigh injuries.
Lucas was unpopular amongst Liverpool fans when he first joined the club in 2007 from Gremiom after he struggled to adapt to the Premier League. During a 0-0 draw with Fulham he was booed by his own fans, but since then has become better liked by the fans.
After signing his latest contract extension Lucas has claimed Liverpool is where he belongs. Let’s see what else he has said since joining.
December 4th 2007: “Stevie and I are different players. I am younger and I am still learning and he is helping me a lot. I am happy to be playing because I can learn from players like Stevie. It is fantastic to play alongside him because he is one of the best players in the world. Hopefully, one day I will be as good as he is but that is a long way away. When I play in midfield with him I have to play more of a holding role because he can go forward, create chances and score goals himself. Hopefully, when I have played more games and got more confidence I can go forward more myself.”
February 12th 2008: “I am the kind of person who likes a challenge. I was in a fortunate position at Gremio because I had achieved some success and I was made a lot of very interesting offers – offers which would have made a lot of money. Some of them were in Spain and it’s true I had an enquiry from Inter Milan too. They were all famous clubs but the Liverpool option stood out from the first moment I heard of their interest. I had heard of them back in Brazil and we saw a lot of Premier League matches so I was aware of what the manager was building here at the club. I was interested in what they had to say from the first moment. My father and my agent came across here to speak to Liverpool and they were very impressed with everything. For me it was only a sporting project and a club that would help me meet my ambitions and allow me to help them achieve theirs. I could have gone to Spain or Italy and it would have been more like I am used to. But I want to make the most of my career and I want to challenge myself. I have friends from the international team at Inter, Cesar and Maicon are great players and I will enjoy playing against them. But I would much rather play for Liverpool than Inter. That was my decision then and it would be the same if I had to make it again.”
July 25th 2008: “Of course it’s going to be difficult but I will be trying my best (to get regular starts). We had a good second half of the season but we didn’t win the title. Hopefully this year we can win the title and this is our challenge now. I think that winning the league is most important because it’s been an 18 year wait since we last won it. The focus is to win something but the most important thing now is the Premier League.”
December 31st 2008: “I’m pleased with my performances. I’m getting more minutes on the pitch and making good use of it. But I have to thank the confidence my manager has in me for that. I don’t see Chelsea or Manchester United having the same potential as us this year.”
August 7th 2009: “You have to see what Benitez plans but the president of Corinthians already knows I am interested and what I want.”
October 31st 2009: “Fulham was the worst moment because it was the first time anything like that had happened to me but it was an experience I could learn from. Maybe it will happen again but now I have the experience. You have to understand the supporters. They were expecting Xabi [Alonso] that time and he was on the bench. The game wasn’t good, we were not playing well so I understand. Playing well is the only way you will change it. When I came to Liverpool, I came with a target: to make history. Nobody wants to come to a club and become just one more player. Since that moment [against Fulham] I tried to protect myself. I stopped reading newspapers. Each time I listened to criticism it made me stronger.”
May 8th 2010: “Liverpool is still a big, big club. When you have played in the Champions League, everyone wants to play in this kind of competition. But even if we can’t offer the Champions League, I’m sure the big names will still see Liverpool as a good option. Hopefully we will get some players to help us.”
July 17th 2010: “I’m happy in Liverpool and looking forward to my fourth season. I hope I stay. I’m happy to play for Liverpool and to improve my performances, as I did last season. I’m not here to try to prove critics wrong. I’m here to prove myself to the manager and my team-mates. That’s the most important thing. I don’t know why people criticise me so much but I just try to be positive and be strong. I know I had a good season last season and hope it will be even better this season. I have to keep going and show the manager that I can play and have the quality that he expects.”
December 23rd 2010: “When they told me, I said I will try to find a club, but that I would not go just anywhere. [I said] I think I can be at a good club, since Liverpool is a good club and I had been here for three years. But I also said I would fight for my place, I will train, that I am a professional. It was not easy, but sometimes you have to be calm. A few offers came, but Liverpool did not accept them. I am glad that I stayed, because I am playing well, helping the team, and I am more important now than I was a few months ago.”
March 30th 2011: Lucas signs contract extension to keep him at the club until 2015.
December 1st 2011: Lucas ruled out for the season with a knee injury.
December 2nd 2011: “I didn’t realise what an impact my injury could make on the fans. A lot of people have been sending me positive messages, and this makes me feel stronger. I know at the moment I haven’t had time to think too much about the injury and I am just trying to get everything ready for the operation, but I know when I have difficult times during my rehab one of the things that I will remember will be the messages. I want to say thank you very much for all the messages the fans have sent me on the website and on my Twitter page too. I have read a lot of them and all of them have been very positive. They have given me more confidence to come back strongly.”
August 29th 2012: Lucas ruled out for a further 3 months with a thigh injury.
December 2nd 2012: He said: “I was really looking forward to the game and the feeling against Southampton was the same as my first match for Gremio. I played more minutes than people were expecting and now it is just a question of games and training sessions, that is the only way I will get to the level I was. I think it was really positive, especially as it is a year since my first injury. I was really pleased with the performance. I need to improve a lot but that is a good step I have made. Everyone knows it has been a long journey for me to turn around the opinion of people but they really appreciate the work I do for the team and the passion I have for the club.”
April 10th 2013: He told the club’s website: “It’s another long-term contract that I have signed – but it was the same feeling as when I first came here. 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. It was not a difficult decision to make and I am really looking forward to what will hopefully be a few more years with a lot of success.”