Lucas Leiva signs long-term Liverpool contract

Lucas Leiva
Lucas started 46 games for Liverpool last season

Liverpool's Brazilian midfielder Lucas Leiva has signed a new long-term deal at the club.

The 24-year-old, signed from Gremio for £5m in 2007, has been rewarded for his impressive displays this season.

Lucas has taken on more responsibility since the departures of Xabi Alonso and Javier Mascherano and played his 100th league game for the Reds in February.

Boss Kenny Dalglish said: "Since I came in he has been a great asset to the team and has done tremendously well."

Much-maligned by fans in the early part of his career on Merseyside, Lucas has become Liverpool's first choice holding midfielder, sitting in front of the back four and allowing the likes of Steven Gerrard and Raul Meireles to burst forward.

He has played 40 times for the club this season and started for Brazil against Scotland at the Emirates on Sunday.

"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," added Dalglish.

"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 holding on to 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 could have gone to many clubs because he is highly rated around Europe, but he always said he wanted to play for Liverpool."

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