Few knew ahead of time that a new, extended deal for midfielder Lucas Leiva was in the works, but its surprise arrival sends a signal that Liverpool's midfield anchor believes in the club's current direction under manager Brendan Rodgers and will leave fans feeling more confident heading into the offseason.
"It was the same feeling as when I first came here," said the player when asked how he felt about signing the new, extended deal to keep him at the club for the foreseeable future. "I am really delighted to have the opportunity to play for this club. It's where I think I belong and where I wanted to stay, so I am very happy and looking forward to a few more years here."
In a profession where players commonly agitate for moves either to bolster already inflated wages or to alleviate complaints of honmesickness, the level-headed Lucas also revealed that it is fondness for the adopted city he now thinks of as home further motivated him to sign the new deal.
"[Liverpool] is definitely home," he added. "My son was born here and I have a lot of relationships with people outside of the club. When I go back to Brazil I only go back for holidays because when I come back, I come back to my house and where I live my life."
Things weren't always so positive for Lucas at Anfield, of course, with the player struggling to win over a public at times skeptical of his intelligent, patient, and at times seemingly understated approach in the centre of the pitch. As the years have passed, though, for most the player has come to seem indispensable—and perhaps even more integral to Liverpool's chances than the likes of Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez.
"It was a very difficult start," Lucas admitted of his first few years in England. "But then everyone knows I worked really hard and changed opinions. Another difficult moment for me was my injury and now I am getting back to where I was before. I knew this season was going to be a difficult one, especially after the thigh injury, but I am really looking forward to next season and I will be in my best shape again."
Lucas' current contract had two more seasons left to go, running until the summer of 2015. It is expected his new one will, similar to those signed by Luis Suarez and many of the club's youngsters since Rodgers took over, be heavily incentivised. And perhaps most importantly for those still uncertain of the club's direction under Rodgers, it sends a strong signal that one of Liverpool's most important players is fully on board.
"If I didn't believe, I don't think I would have signed a new deal," he said. "I think that's why we've seen a lot of players signing new deals—because we really believe this club will be back where it should be. The last two or three years have had some difficult moments for the club, but I think keeping these players and getting help from new players will be important for us.
"When I retire, I would like to look back and see that my career at Liverpool has been a successful one. That means winning—and I still believe we can win important things here. Maybe it hasn't been as quick as I or everybody would have wanted, but I am sure in a few years' time we will be celebrating some important titles."