Lucas Leiva came close to winning major silverware with Liverpool several times over his 10 year stint with the Reds, but he saw his team come up short time after time. During his LFC tenure, Lucas was part of teams that finished as runners-up in the League Cup, FA Cup, Europa League, Champions League, and twice in the Premier League. The only title Liverpool won in Lucas’ 10 years was the 2011-12 League Cup, and Lucas missed that final after tearing his ACL in the quarter finals of that year’s competition.
By the time Jürgen Klopp was named Liverpool’s manager, Lucas’ best years were behind him. He was still a calming, veteran presence in the Liverpool midfield, but age and injuries had taken their toll, and he was several years removed from his brief stint as perhaps the best holding midfielder in England. Klopp did manage to make the most of Lucas’ declining skillset, and he received praise for his contribution to Liverpool’s 11 game unbeaten run in Klopp’s first season.
Despite this, it was becoming increasingly clear that Lucas’ time at Liverpool was nearing an end, and after the 2016-17 season, Lucas was sold to Lazio. Lucas agreed to the move and embraced the new challenge, but in an interview with LFCTV posted last night, Lucas said he knew it was only a matter of time before Liverpool started winning titles again with Klopp at the helm.
“When I left the club I was 100% sure a great moment was coming. You could feel [it],” said Lucas. “I could feel that things were changing. I was sure it would come, but you never know when, because you’re playing against so many good teams. It’s not easy to predict.”
“But I could feel that Liverpool were going to come back, winning important things,” Lucas continued. “Of course, the Premier League was always the first target, let’s say, every season. I could feel that, yes.”
Lucas went on to say that he benefitted greatly form his two year’s playing for Klopp, even if there were some struggles to adapt to Klopp’s well known counter-pressing style. The Gegenpress’ high energy pressure requires a great deal of stamina, which resulted in some adjustments from Lucas and some creativity from Klopp to find a way to fit Lucas’ skillset into the lineup.
“When he arrived, for me it was a new start. That’s how I felt. Slowly, I started to understand more the way he wanted us to play. Of course, I played in different positions,” Lucas said.
“He was a great manager for me, I learned a lot. I played for him for two years, two seasons, but it was enough to learn a lot and also understand that the way he wanted to play, maybe for me was going to be more difficult.”
Lucas was ultimately sold after two years as his playing time dwindled, but he harbors no ill will, and clearly remains fond of Klopp.
“That’s why we have this great relationship until today – because he always treated me with so much respect and I tried to do the same.”