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Lucas' Liverpool career a mixture of resilience and restlessness

Lucas' Liverpool career a mixture of resilience and restlessness
From ESPN - July 17, 2017

Lucas Leiva's departure to Lazio was an unassuming one for an unassuming player, who seemed to get a lot of Liverpool fans agitated despite his own inoffensive nature.

Bought by Rafael Benitez from Gremio in 2007, he was the least exciting purchase that year and yet he has outlasted all of them. Fernando Torres, Ryan Babel and Yossi Benayoun have long since left Anfield.

Benitez was able to call on Steven Gerrard, Xabi Alonso and Javier Mascherano for central midfield so from day one, affable Brazilian Lucas had a fight on his hands to stake a place in the side.

That he leaves after a decade with enough appearances to put him in Liverpool's all-time top 50 is testament to his diligence. It just as likely says something about the Reds' paucity of quality during that time, or even the amount of games modern clubs have to play.

His career at Anfield could well have been defined by one unsavoury night in March 2009 when, as a late substitute during a routine 2-0 win over Sunderland, he was booed on to the pitch.

It was not that many people who did such a stupid, contemptible thing but it was certainly enough to get noticed --and it was not the first time, either.

A perception of managerial favouritism coupled with what seemed like desperation to sell Alonso the previous summer -- he would eventually join Real Madrid a year later -- placed the young Brazilian in an awkward position.

That only made some supporters rally to his cause more, often exaggerating the player's merits and lashing out at any dissenting voices. It still seems crazy that such an innocuous player could be the centre of controversy.

As Liverpool began to weaken over the years, it was noticeable Lucas' performances remained steady. All teams need a stabilising base and it was not his fault the Reds lost class players while signing inadequate ones.

It sometimes felt like the player was jinxed. Liverpool's only trophy during his Anfield career came in 2012, while he was recovering from a long-term injury after he'd begun to win over doubters with strong, even inspirational performances.

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