5 Reasons Why Lucas Leiva Is so Important to Liverpool
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Lucas Leiva's form at Liverpool may have dipped slightly this season, but he still remains an integral part of the club's midfield and every-day running.
The 26-year-old Brazilian hasn't quite looked the same player he was two or three years ago since recovering from an anterior cruciate ligament injury in December 2011.
But with a host of fellow South Americans around him, a large fan base amongst Reds' fans and a passing accuracy that puts the pressure on Barcelona's Xavi, there are still plenty of reasons why Lucas is so important to Liverpool.
His South American Influence
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Lucas has made no secret of his close friendships with fellow South Americans at the club, posting photos on Twitter and Instagram of numerous evenings in and out with their families.
Now 26 years old, Lucas is one of the club's current longest-serving players, having signed from Gremio in 2007, and he has been helping players settle into life on Merseyside.
Many have put Lucas' wisdom and welcoming skills down to the immediate impact of Philippe Coutinho, who has sparkled in the Reds' first team since signing from Inter Milan in January.
The 21-year-old winger even referred to Lucas as "Dad" in a recent interview for the club's official website.
There's no doubt the likes of Coutinho, Luis Suarez and Sebastian Coates have all been helped tremendously by Lucas' hospitality.
His Accurate Passing
Much has been made about Lucas' passing accuracy in games—with some even comparing him to Spanish international Xavi at Barcelona.
So far this season, Lucas boasts an impressive 89.3 percent accurate passing record, according to whoscored.com, in his six league appearances.
First Choice for Every Liverpool Manager
Lucas' seven years at Liverpool haven't always been plain sailing.
He came under a barrage of criticism from both fans and the media in his opening couple of seasons, when then-manager Rafa Benitez stuck by him despite Lucas looking physically weak and tactically lost in the middle of the park.
However, the fact that he has been a regular first choice for no fewer than four different Liverpool managers in Benitez, Roy Hodgson, Kenny Dalglish and now Brendan Rodgers speaks volumes for managers' faith in his abilities.
His International Experience
Lucas currently only has 20 caps for Brazil, a massive oversight by a succession of Brazilian national team managers who have a bizarre selection policy at the best of times.
The midfielder gains valuable experience on his international trips away and furthermore goes on to prove how highly regarded he is the world over.
Lucas was recently called up to the Brazil squad for their forthcoming international friendlies and will be hoping to impress enough to claim a place in Luiz Felipe Scolari's World Cup squad next year.
He "Gets" Liverpool Football Club
Lucas is well and truly part of the Liverpool family, and when the day comes that he leaves the club, it will be a sad one.
He has been part of some fond memories but also been loyal to the club through some turbulent times.
Lucas, like the fans, has seen a carousel of managers and the shift in the running of the squad when John Henry's Fenway Sports Group took over ownership in 2010.
He keeps up with his fans on Twitter and Instagram, posting photos of himself, teammates and family kitted out in red, and thanking fans for their undying support.