Monday, 10 August 2009

Lucas will fill the void

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez believes Lucas Leiva has what it takes to fill the void left by the departing Xabi Alonso and the 4-8 week wait for new signing Alberto Aquilani to recover from injury. Lucas was not a favourite last term, however the young Brazilian has shown consistently solid performances throughout the pre season games and Benitez feels it may be time for midfielder to step up to the plate and grasp the opportunity with both hands.

"Lucas has been best the player in pre-season. He showed why again against Atletico. He is really focused, working hard and is showing quality," said Benitez in the Independent.

"He knows Aquilani will need time. When we decided to bring in Aquilani we knew he would be out for one month or so, so we analysed the squad and we think that with Javier Mascherano, Lucas, Steven Gerrard and Damien Plessis we have enough (strength in depth)," added the Liverpool manager.

Lucas may be turning the nay sayer's with his series of impressive displays including a rave review from our very own contributor: 'The Main (Stand) Man'. Yesterday he began his series of positives to take into the new season with his assessment of the 22-year-old Brazilian which can be read here.

Lucas himself appears ready to take his great run into the new season: "I am always ready and now Xabi is gone I hope there will be more opportunities for me," he said.

"I am just working hard in training to try to earn a position in the team."

"I have played a lot of minutes in pre-season and that has given me more confidence. I am feeling better and hopefully it will be a good season for me."

Lucas added: "I want to play every week but I know Liverpool have a strong squad. I just have to wait and respect whatever decisions 'Rafa' makes."

He added: "Everyone was really sad to see Xabi go because he had been here a long time."

"Last season he was one of the club's best players but he has a plan for himself and his career. We have to respect that."

"We will continue to support him because he is a friend of ours. I hope he does well at Real and I am sure he hopes we continue to do well here."

"We will miss him of course but I think we can cope without him. We did not play all the games last season with Xabi, and still finished runners-up."

"He is a really good player but we also have a lot of other quality players here."

Lucas adds in the Echo: “Of course I was happy to score against Atletico, although I would rather the team have won the game instead of me getting the goal.”

“But it was good for me to start and end the pre-season well. I am doing extra work to put some weight and strength on and now I am just focussed on the season."

“Sometimes I hear things said about me, but to be honest I don't care too much. I only care about the team and the squad.

“Now I have to focus on the forthcoming season and continue to work hard and improve."

“I will try to prove I have the quality to be in the team and hopefully help Liverpool win the title.”

“We still have to improve a lot, but we can feel our fitness is getting better,” he said.

“Now, some players will go to play internationals, while the others will keep training at Melwood, but we will be ready for the beginning of the season."

“We will be looking to win at Tottenham. We know the first game is very important and we have to start the season well because our title rivals will not make it easy for us.”

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