Lucas Leiva

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This name uses Portuguese naming customs. The first or maternal family name is Pezzini and the second or paternal family name is Leiva.
Lucas Leiva
Lucas Leiva US Tour 2012 (cropped).jpg
Lucas in 2012
Personal information
Full name Lucas Pezzini Leiva[1]
Date of birth (1987-01-09) 9 January 1987 (age 27)
Place of birth Dourados, Brazil
Height 1.79 m (5 ft 10 in)[2]
Playing position Defensive midfielder
Club information
Current team
Number 21
Youth career
2004–2005 Grêmio
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
2005–2007 Grêmio 38 (4)
2007– Liverpool 179 (1)
National team
2007 Brazil U20 9 (4)
2008 Brazil U23 7 (0)
2007– Brazil 24 (0)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 4 October 2014.

† Appearances (Goals).

‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 17 November 2013

Lucas Pezzini Leiva (born 9 January 1987), known as Lucas, is a Brazilian footballer who plays as a defensive midfielder for Premier League club Liverpool and the Brazil national team. Lucas is the nephew of former Brazilian footballer Leivinha[3] and also holds an Italian passport due to his descent from the country.

Club career[edit]


Lucas began his career at Grêmio as a box to box midfielder in 2005. The following year was a successful year for him, as Grêmio won the Rio Grande do Sul state championship (the Campeonato Gaúcho) for the first time since 2001, and also came third in the Campeonato Brasileiro Série A. Lucas also became the youngest player ever to receive Placar magazine's Bola de Ouro (Golden Ball), given to the best player in the Campeonato Brasileiro – an honour previously won by the likes of Zico, Falcão, Careca, Alex, Romário, Robinho, Kaká and Tévez.[4]

His form in 2006 led to reported interest from many major European clubs including offers from top Spanish clubs and Inter.[5] It was Liverpool that proved most attractive to the player, however, and on 13 May 2007 the club confirmed they had signed the player from Grêmio before the start of the 2007–08 season.[6] The transfer fee was in the region of £6 million.[7] Lucas remained with Grêmio until the end of their 2007 Copa Libertadores campaign. They made it to the final where they met Boca Juniors. However, Lucas had a niggling injury, causing him to start the first leg on the bench. With Grêmio 1–0 down, Sandro Goiano was sent off. Lucas was brought on to help shore up the midfield, but to no avail as Grêmio lost 3–0. Lucas was back in the starting line-up for the second leg, but Grêmio were again defeated, this time 2–0.


2007–08 season[edit]

On 26 July 2007, he was officially unveiled as a Liverpool player for a fee of £5 million and was given international clearance to compete in the final of the Barclays Asia Trophy.[8] Manager Rafael Benítez was pleased with his signing, saying: "I am looking forward to seeing him score goals for Liverpool in the future and [we] believe he has the mentality and the character you need to do well in England".[7] The next day, Lucas made his debut against Portsmouth, coming on for Mohamed Sissoko in the second half. He also won a penalty in the match against Everton after Phil Neville handballed on the line from Lucas' shot.

By late November, manager Benítez gave Lucas his chance to start a game in the Liverpool midfield, after easing him in during his first few months at the club. Lucas scored his first goal for Liverpool on 27 January 2008 when he curled a 25-yard shot into the top corner during an FA Cup match against Havant and Waterlooville, becoming the first Brazilian to score for Liverpool.[9] The young Brazilian also started league games against Chelsea and Arsenal, as well as both Champions League games against Inter Milan.

2008–09 season[edit]

Lucas playing for Liverpool in 2009

The start of the 2008–09 season signified an important turning point for his career. Many commentators expected him to step up to the next level after completing his first season with the Reds.[citation needed] The Brazilian got off to a good start with a well taken opening goal in a 2–1 friendly win over Swiss side FC Lucerne in July.[10] He impressed in pre-season games but missed the start of Premier League season due to his selection for the Brazilian Olympic Team in the Beijing Olympics.[11][12] He returned with a bronze medal and Benítez had high hopes for the Brazilian's future, stating "this season he will improve because he is a very, very good professional and has experience of the Olympic Games".[13] Lucas noted that Liverpool's squad was much improved from the previous season and relished the opportunity to compete for trophies, despite the increased difficulty of getting a first team place.[14] However, after a number of disappointing performances,[15][16] both critics and fans voiced concerns about Lucas' quality and his confidence was further knocked when Liverpool fans booed him after a lacklustre draw against Fulham. The criticism irked Benítez and he responded with a passionate defence of the player, saying that "people just don't know how good Lucas is"[17] Benitez also underlined Lucas' credentials, stating that he had been captain for both Grêmio and his national youth team, and that competing for place against Mascherano, Steven Gerrard and Xabi Alonso was inherently difficult. Lucas' performances in December 2008 for Liverpool drew him much praise from pundits, the highlight being his performance in the 5–1 thrashing of Newcastle, where he provided an assist for Steven Gerrard.[18][19] Lucas was sent off in a cup tie against Mersey rivals Everton, which Liverpool lost. This compounded his growing unpopularity amongst Liverpool's supporters, after he gave away a late penalty in Liverpool's previous match, a 1–1 draw with Wigan.[20][21]

On 14 March, Lucas played a key role[citation needed] in Liverpool's 4–1 victory over Manchester United at Old Trafford. Lucas started in place of the injured Xabi Alonso. On 14 April, Lucas played against Chelsea in the Champions League, in place of Steven Gerrard. He scored a goal with his long range effort in the 81st minute deflected off Michael Essien and past Petr Čech to make the score 3–3. Dirk Kuyt's header a minute later briefly gave Liverpool the lead, but Frank Lampard's 89th minute strike leveled the score to 4–4, with Chelsea winning 7–5 on aggregate to go through to the semi-finals of the tournament.[22]

On 3 May 2009, Lucas scored his first Premier League goal, a header from a free-kick for Liverpool against Newcastle United in a 3–0 win.[23]

2009–10 season[edit]

During the 2009–10 pre-season period, Lucas showed good form scoring Liverpool's only goal in a 2–1 loss against Atlético Madrid. This form earned praise from manager Rafael Benítez, and gained him a start against Tottenham Hotspur for the opening game of the 09/10 season on 16 August. Liverpool lost 1–2 but Lucas earned praise for a solid performance all round.[24]

Lucas appeared in Liverpool's opening six games of the 2009/10 season, never previously having played six games consecutively for the club. Lucas has been playing continuously since the departure of Alonso.

The 2009/2010 season has seen a large increase in the form of the young Brazilian.[citation needed] On 8 April 2010, Lucas scored his second European goal for Liverpool, scoring in Liverpool's 4–1 (5–3 aggregate) quarter final win over Benfica in the UEFA Europa League quarter-finals.[25]

2010–11 season[edit]

In pre-season games before the 2010–11 season, Lucas was made captain of a youthful Liverpool side against Grasshopper.[26]

On 16 September 2010, Lucas scored his sixth goal for Liverpool shortly after replacing Ryan Babel in Liverpool's first Europa League group stage match against Steaua Bucureşti. The goal was Liverpool's third in a 4–1 victory and was scored from 22 yards.[27] On 13 November, Lucas was sent off for the second time in his Liverpool career after being shown a second yellow card in injury time in Liverpool's 2–0 defeat to Stoke City.[28] On 6 December, Lucas was voted the fan's pick for man of the match on the official Liverpool website.[29] Lucas assisted a Ryan Babel goal in a 3–0 win over Aston Villa.[30] On 12 February 2011, Lucas made his 100th Premier League appearance for Liverpool in a 1–1 draw with Wigan Athletic at Anfield.

In the absence of Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard, Lucas has grown into a first-team regular and the heart lynch-pin of Liverpool's midfield forming partnerships with Christian Poulsen, Raul Meireles and more recently Jay Spearing. His positive attitude and tackling ability have earned him Brazil call-ups, featuring in all of Brazil's games under new coach Mano Menezes as well as recognition as Liverpool's most consistent player of the season.

On 30 March, Lucas signed a new long term contract at Liverpool.[31] On 17 April, during Liverpool's 1–1 draw against Arsenal at Emirates Stadium, Lucas played a pivotal role in outplaying Cesc Fàbregas in midfield, whilst showing a deft touch in the dying moments to earn his side a freekick in the last minute. His quick reaction time to reach the loose ball from the resulting free kick, when he was tackled in the penalty area, earned his side a penalty which Dirk Kuyt converted. Following the game, Kenny Dalglish praised him: "...he may be the one who stops the guy (opponent) going past the first fella then sets us on our way (creates attacks)", drawing growing comparisons to Xavi and 1994 World Cup winner and captain, Dunga. On 24 May, Lucas was voted the Standard Chartered Fans player of the year for the 2010–11 season, winning 40% of the 129,774 votes cast. He also made the most tackles in the top 4 European leagues in the 2010–2011 season.

2011–12 season[edit]

Lucas playing for Liverpool in 2012

After an excellent run of form for Liverpool, his season was unfortunately cut short on 1 December, it was confirmed he was out for the remainder of the season after he suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury after he collided with Juan Mata in the 2–0 win over Chelsea in the quarter final of the League Cup.[32] This turned out to be a major loss for The Reds, as Liverpool finished 8th in the Premier League.

2012–13 season[edit]

Lucas was seen back in training on 5 July at Melwood, the first session overseen by new manager Brendan Rodgers. This was the first training session in preparation for the new season. He made his return 2 weeks later 2 months earlier than expected after playing the final 15 minutes of Liverpool's friendly versus MLS side Toronto which was drawn 1-1. He played a part in all of Liverpool's pre-season games, even scoring a goal in a 3-1 win over Bayer Leverkusen. In August 2012 he was ruled out of action for three months due to a thigh problem picked up on 25 August in the early minutes of the game against Manchester City. Lucas returned to the Liverpool squad in their 1-0 win over Southampton. On 11 February 2013 Lucas made his 200th appearance for the Reds against West Bromwich Albion. On 10 April 2013, he signed a new long term deal with the club.

2013–14 season[edit]

Lucas Leiva was a consistent starter in the Liverpool 2013-14 side[33] which saw him make a return to the Brazilian national team's squad. [34] After Steven Gerrard was moved into the defensive midfield position during the middle of the season, Lucas did not feature regularly for Liverpool in the starting XI for the remaining matches of the season as he was injured for much of it.

International career[edit]

Lucas playing for Brazil in 2011

Lucas is the former captain of the Brazilian under-20 team. He led the team to victory in the 2007 South American Youth Championship, scoring 4 goals in the process. He was expected to lead the team again in the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup held in Canada in July 2007 and was named in their squad. However an injury in training kept him from playing for 3 weeks, leading to his withdrawal from the squad.[35]

In October 2006, Lucas was included in the senior Brazilian squad for friendlies against Kuwaiti club Al-Kuwait and Ecuador. Lucas was both the youngest member and one of only two non-Europe based players in a strong squad. He made his debut for Brazil on 7 October 2006 coming on as a second half substitute against Al-Kuwait. Brazil won the match 4–0. However, this appearance does not count as his first cap as the match was not considered an official friendly match by FIFA.[2]

Lucas gained his first official Brazil international cap on 22 August 2007, coming on as a substitute in a friendly against Algeria.[36] In June 2008, Lucas was named in the Brazil squad for an Olympics warm-up match later in the month.[37]

On 19 August, Lucas was shown a red card in the 2008 Olympics semi-final match between Brazil and Argentina, after a challenge on then Liverpool team-mate Javier Mascherano, as Argentina ran out 3–0 winners. In August 2009, Lucas was recalled to the senior Brazil squad in place of Flamengo's José Kléberson, who was absent through injury. After missing out on the Brazil world cup squad in South Africa, Lucas played the full 90 minutes in a friendly against the United States on 10 August 2010.[38]

On 17 July 2011, Lucas was shown a straight red card in the 2011 Copa América play-off semi final against Paraguay, after an extra time altercation with Antolín Alcaraz. Brazil went on to lose the match on penalties after the match had finished all square after 90 minutes.[39]

Career statistics[edit]


As of 4 October 2014
Club statistics
Club Season League Cup League Cup Continental Total
Division Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Grêmio 2005 Série B 3 0 0 0 0 0 3 0
2006 Série A 32 4 4 1 16 0 52 5
2007 3 0 0 0 9 2 8 1 20 3
Total 38 4 4 1 25 2 8 1 75 8
Liverpool 2007–08 Premier League 18 0 4 1 3 0 7 0 32 1
2008–09 25 1 2 0 2 1 10 1 39 3
2009–10 35 0 2 0 0 0 13 1 50 1
2010–11 33 0 1 0 1 0 12 1 47 1
2011–12 12 0 0 0 3 0 15 0
2012–13 26 0 1 0 0 0 4 0 31 0
2013–14 27 0 1 0 1 0 29 0
2014–15 3 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 5 0
Total 179 1 11 1 11 1 47 3 248 6
Career totals 216 5 15 2 36 3 55 4 322 14


As of 2013.[34]
Brazil national team
Year Apps Goals
2007 1 0
2008 2 0
2009 1 0
2010 4 0
2011 12 0
2012 0 0
2013 4 0
Total 24 0








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  30. ^ "Liverpool 3-0 Aston Villa". BBC News. 6 December 2010. 
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  34. ^ a b Lucas Leiva at
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  36. ^ "Maicon and Ronaldinho See Off Algeria". Report on 22 August 2007. Archived from the original on 15 October 2007. Retrieved 23 August 2007. 
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  39. ^ Steinberg, Jacob (17 July 2011). "Brazil v Paraguay - as it happened". Guardian. Retrieved 28 July 2014. 

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