Rafa hits out at Lucas critics
Rafael Benitez has condemned Lucas Leiva's critics after the midfielder earned a call-up to the Brazil squad.
Last Updated: 21/08/09 5:04pm
Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez has condemned Lucas Leiva's critics after the midfielder earned a call-up to the Brazil squad.
Lucas showed promising form amid the Reds' poor pre-season campaign and continued his form into Liverpool's 4-0 drubbing of Stoke City in midweek.
Brazil manager Dunga has now called up the midfielder for their forthcoming World Cup qualifiers against Argentina and Chile in a clear sign of Lucas' progress under Benitez.
Despite the progress, the 22-year-old was still made a scapegoat as Liverpool fell to Tottenham on the opening day of the season, criticism which Benitez is adamant was unfair.
"Lucas has a very good mentality. But for someone of his age to suffer such criticism from the experts on TV is wrong," Benitez claimed.
"He is so good but still he was criticised. I do not understand why they do not criticise other players, more senior players, when they do not play well.
"He is an easy target and maybe they are not brave enough to criticise the bigger players here."
"But he will have a big season. He was the best player in pre-season and at Spurs, when we did not play well, he was still one of the best alongside Glen Johnson and Pepe Reina.
"Against Stoke he again showed his quality. He has a very good mentality. He can tackle, win headers and pass the ball. He will make mistakes like anyone, but he is and will be a very good player.
"I was really pleased for Lucas, in particular, after the win against Stoke and his performance. I have been really surprised at the amount of criticism he has had to cope with from the pundits, the so-called experts.
"Lucas is still a young player but he has experience. And after the display against Stoke everyone can see, even the so-called experts on TV pundit panels, can see he is a very good player.
"Hopefully they will now stop using him as a target. He is a very good lad, an excellent professional. I find it hard to understand that if you are an expert on TV, you cannot see these things."