The day that was getting closer and closer in every transfer window has finally arrived when Liverpool’s loyal disciple Lucas Leiva is set to depart after his decade long dignified services. The 30-year old Brazilian has reportedly agreed on personal terms with Serie A outfit, SS Lazio and is set to complete a £5 mil move within a couple of days.
His departure has grieved the Reds supporters, particularly those who have been a part of his journey that includes many ups and downs including successful Benitez era, club’s turbulent phase, change of ownership and the ongoing resurgence under current boss Jurgen Klopp.
Lucas, who was a sensational Brazilian teenage talent during his Gremio days, chose Liverpool over other top European outfits and joined them back in the summer of 2007. Although he started his career in an attacking midfield role, Lucas struggled to settle in the new circumstances and was even booed by his own fans during an outing against Fulham.
But he held his head up high and the incident made him more determined, gritty and committed towards the Reds as he pledged to prove his haters wrong with hard work and tireless efforts.
“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 I tried to protect myself. I stopped reading newspapers. Each time I listened to criticism it made me stronger. If you just get the negative things you don’t improve. I just try to get the positive things. A lot of people believe in my qualities.”
Lucas kept his promise. The Brazil international impressed the impatient Liverpool fans in a deeper midfield role as he stepped up following the departure of midfield maestros Xavi Alonso and Javier Mascherano.
The club was going through a conundrum and their disappointment hit a new low under Roy Hodgson who replaced Benitez in 2010. Many of their stars forced a move for greater glory, but Lucas did not. It was the payback time for the Brazilian who was retained by Liverpool during his rough patch and was given an opportunity to show his true potential.
He was awarded Liverpool’s Player of the Year during the 2010-11 campaign and played a massive role in their 2011-12 League cup triumph under Kenny Dalglish despite missing out both the semis and final due to an unfortunate ACL injury during the 5th Round fixture against Chelsea where he bossed the midfield and helped his side secure a 2-0 victory at Stamford Bridge.
Lucas, unfortunately, was not the same player after his injury as he took time to recover fully and his game-time was limited under Brendan Rodgers. Yet, he turned down opportunities to move abroad and opted to fight for his place.
He was even used as a make-shift centre back by Jurgen Klopp and performed better than many proving his loyalty, commitment and eagerness to remain at Merseyside. He impressed the Reds boss with his attitude, modesty and willingness to serve his side:
“But I think for Lucas, (who’s had an) outstanding, fantastic time at Liverpool, we should talk about facts.”
Lucas has always been underrated as well as undervalued. He might not have the skills that the other Brazilians usually have, but surrendering was never an option for Leiva who fought for his place and stayed in the league with utmost dignity for a decade despite his limitations, unlike many world-class names who preferred quitting.
” What we do in life echoes in eternity”. Liverpool had plenty of foreign stars in their glorifying history who shook the Kop, but Lucas has been the gladiator who earned an eternal status of a cult hero among the fans for his loyalty, adherence and devotion.
Goodbye Lucas Leiva, Premier League will remember you for your contribution. Liverpool will admire you for your enormous efforts to take them back among Europe’s elites.