Liverpool's Lucas Leiva: Alonso departure was the turning point
Lucas Leiva admits that the departure of fan favourite Xabi Alonso to Real Madrid was the turning point for his Liverpool career.
The Seleção midfielder endured a torrid first two seasons at Anfield on his arrival from Grêmio as he struggled to adapt to the Premier League but his third season saw a huge improvement in his play.
Talking to Liverpool legend and former Denmark midfielder Jan Molby on LFC TV, Lucas spoke of his conversion from attacking midfield to anchor man.
Lucas told Molby: "I had to change the way I played, used to play. I just thought I had no option. The way the Premier League is with the pace of the game and everything, I was not able to do that [be a box to box midfielder].
"I couldn't do it so I just felt, 'Listen, you have to understand that the league is different. If you want to be successful you have to change.' A holding position was a position that I felt more comfortable in.
"Rafa just played me there for a few games and then I started to adapt and play some good games. I got better as well, I went to the gym, went on the weights."
He also admitted that one of the turning points in his Anfield career was the departure of Xabi Alonso to Real Madrid in 2009.
"I think my third season," he explained. "It was when Xabi left. It was more pressure but I had the chance to play more games.
"In the first two seasons I was playing but not very often and I used to play maybe 15, 20 games, but coming on as a substitute from the bench is not the same.
"So, the third season when Alonso left I knew the pressure was so high but I had the chance. So I played that season maybe 60 games. Or 55. It was a lot.
"Of course Aquilani came to replace him and they didn't even remember me at that time, but Aquilani was injured so I just played, played and played. I think I did a good season.
"When I finished the season I felt really well and strong and then Rafa left the club, so it was an odd situation for me to think about.
"But maybe the last two seasons it's been a comfortable situation at the club."
Source: Liverpool FC