Lucas out to prove himself
Lucas Leiva believes Liverpool's mixed fortunes this season have helped him progress into a first-team player.
By Mike Barton
Last Updated: 04/03/10 1:51pm
Liverpool midfielder Lucas Leiva believes his side's mixed fortunes this season have helped his progression into a first-team player.
The 23-year-old is one of just three Reds players to have figured in every Premier League game so far this season alongside Pepe Reina and Dirk Kuyt.
The Brazilian, who was in the squad for his country's 2-0 victory over Republic of Ireland on Tuesday at the Emirates Stadium and will hope to be in their World Cup squad this summer, has often been a much-maligned figure at Anfield since his transfer from Gremio in 2007.
However, Reds boss Rafa Benitez's persistence in using him alongside Javier Mascherano in a five-man midfield has seen the club's form pick up of late, with Lucas' determination to prove he can handle the pressure of playing for the club a key factor in his improvement.
"I've learned a lot more about myself and become a stronger person and player. It made me desperate to prove people wrong," he told LFC Weekly.
"There have been times (in the past) when I thought I may have made the wrong decision but now I am sure that I have made the right one.
"My game has changed a lot since leaving Brazil. I was able to attack more at Gremio because I played with two defensive midfielders. In England you have more responsibility.
Work to do
"I still think I have some work to do if all the fans are going to believe in me. I'm happy and feel I'm improving. But it isn't about me, it's about the club doing well."
Lucas' comments were backed up by Benitez, who still feels he made the right decision signing a player who at the time was very highly thought of by a number of top clubs.
"I know he can improve so much more," said Benitez.
"When I was talking about him before he signed, I was telling people we were signing the captain of Gremio - and he was only 19.
"That means something. You do not captain teams in Brazil at such a level at that age if you are not a strong character with a good mentality. Hopefully he will continue to grow with us."