Lucas ready to deliver
Liverpool's Lucas Leiva believes his 'difficult moments' in England have made him a better player.
Last Updated: 21/08/09 9:03am
Liverpool midfielder Lucas Leiva believes his 'difficult moments' in England have made him a better player.
The Brazil international has at times struggled since arriving from Gremio in 2007 and has earned criticism from some quarters.
Lucas was sent off as Liverpool lost at Merseyside rivals Everton in the FA Cup last season in one of his lowest experiences.
But the 22-year-old impressed against Stoke in midweek and, after a personally positive pre-season, he feels his career at Anfield is on the up.
"Back in Brazil everything seemed to progress perfectly from when I was a kid," he said in the Daily Mirror. "I played well, scored goals and won titles - it was easy.
"When I moved to Liverpool it was suddenly different and I've had some difficult moments. However, theses experiences can help me. They have made me stronger.
"I realised I had to be stronger. I've done plenty of work in pre-season so I'm better able to cope with the physical side of the game here.
"Now I'm able to get forward more and I believe I can have a good year."
Lucas, though, insists he is not going to be a direct replacement for Xabi Alonso, who joined Real Madrid in the summer.
He expects a number of players to step up following his former team-mate's move to the Bernabeu.
Lucas added: "People have said, 'Lucas might fill Xabi's boots'. But his departure doesn't mean that. It is an opportunity for a few players, not just me.
"But I feel stronger. I'm playing well and I'm enjoying it here. I hope that continues."