Lucas lands new Liverpool deal

The Brazil international is currently enjoying his best season in a

red shirt since arriving from Gremio in the summer of 2007 for

£5million. Lucas has grown in stature as a central midfielder

following the departure of Xabi Alonso and Javier Mascherano in

recent seasons and made his 100th Premier League appearance against

Wigan in February. With the 24-year-old’s previous contract having

only just over a year to run and continued speculation about

Liverpool renewing their interest in Blackpool’s Charlie Adam in

the summer, there had been suggestions Lucas could be on his way

out. Only this week he was linked with Serie A side Napoli – but

the likeable Brazilian always insisted he wanted to remain at

Anfield and has got his wish. Lucas was a much-derided figure among

many fans for a lot of his early years on Merseyside, although

former manager Rafael Benitez’s confidence in the player was

unerring. The Spaniard’s faith was ultimately proved well-placed as

the midfielder has established himself with both club and country.

“For me it was an easy decision because I know how big Liverpool

are and I can see Liverpool are committed to me and are planning

for a future with me,” said Lucas. “The effort from the club was

amazing and that makes me feel an important player. That’s why it

was an easy decision. “I am pleased with the way Liverpool tried to

keep me and now I want to keep doing my best for them. “I don’t

think people thought I could stay here for so long, but now I want

to just keep on improving. “I am really happy. The last few weeks

have been really good for me and now I have signed a new contract

and can spend more years at Liverpool I will do my best all the

time and try to help the club to be bigger and bigger, if that’s

possible.” Manager Kenny Dalglish praised Lucas, who just over a

week ago was celebrating the birth of his son Pedro, not only for

his work on his pitch but his attitude off it. “He is a smashing

lad to have around the football club but he hasn’t been signed for

that, he has been signed because of what he does on the pitch,”

said the Scot. “Certainly since I came in he has been a great asset

to the team and has done tremendously well. “He’s got wee Pedro to

look after and now a new contract as well, and we’re delighted for

him because he’s a really honest, genuine fella and that’s

reflected in the way he plays. “He’s happy to be here and play for

the club and he’s getting everything that he deserves at the moment

– including being a fixture in the Brazilian team – because of what

he’s done on the pitch.” Director of football Damien Comolli

conducted the contract negotiations, revealing Lucas’ was a

priority for him when he joined the club in November. “One of the

first things I did after I arrived was to look at the contract

situation and to see where Lucas was at,” said the Frenchman. “I

knew we had to do something quickly because we couldn’t afford to

lose him and didn’t want to lose him. “He is exactly what we want.

He has the right mentality, quality and attitude. “He understands

what this club is all about and even though the discussions went on

for quite a long time he always said to me ‘I want to stay and we

need to find a solution’. “He could have gone to many clubs because

he is highly rated around Europe, but he always said he wanted to

play for Liverpool.” Dalglish had some more good news on the

fitness of captain Steven Gerrard, whose rehabilitation from a

groin operation on March 10 appears to be ahead of schedule.

However, he revealed the recovery of defenders Fabio Aurelio and

Martin Kelly from hamstring injuries had gone the other way.

“Steven’s training so he has done really well to get where he is,”

the Scot told LFCTV. “Fabio and Martin Kelly have had a setback

with their recovery but Jonjo Shelvey is back training. “Everyone

has come back from the international matches and so far we have not

had any injuries reported.”