Lucas in 2012
|Full name||Lucas Pezzini Leiva|
|Date of birth||9 January 1987|
|Place of birth||Dourados, Brazil|
|Height||1.79 m (5 ft 10 in)|
|Playing position||Defensive midfielder|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 7 February 2015.
† Appearances (Goals).
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 and also holds an Italian passport due to his descent from the country.
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.
His form in 2006 led to reported interest from many major European clubs including offers from top Spanish clubs and Inter. 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. The transfer fee was in the region of £6 million.
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.
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.
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. 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. 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.
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". 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. However, after a number of disappointing performances, 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" 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. 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.
On 14 March, Lucas played a key role 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 Cech 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.
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.
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.
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. 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. On 6 December, Lucas was voted the fan's pick for man of the match on the official Liverpool website. Lucas assisted a Ryan Babel goal in a 3–0 win over Aston Villa.
On 30 March, Lucas signed a new long term contract at Liverpool.
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.
10 April 2013, he signed a new long term deal with the club.
In the initial run of games within the 2014–15 Premier League and other cup competitions Lucas was rotated in and out from the squad. This lead to speculations surrounding him on a move away from Anfield. But he made the comeback as a starting player against Ludogorets in the champions league with a good display. His fine form continued and he started game against Stoke, Leicester and Sunderland. Lucas's good run continued as Liverpool then played against Manchester United, Arsenal, Burnley, Swansea, Leicester and Sunderland out of which Liverpool only lost to United and then achieved five games without defeat in a row with Lucas as an integral member.
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.
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.
Lucas gained his first official Brazil international cap on 22 August 2007, coming on as a substitute in a friendly against Algeria. In June 2008, Lucas was named in the Brazil squad for an Olympics warm-up match later in the month.
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.
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.
- As of 7 February 2015
- As of 2013.
|Brazil national team|
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