Lucas Leiva: I am close to my best level for Liverpool
Liverpool midfielder Lucas Leiva believes he is finally rediscovering his best form after a succession of injury problems.
The Brazilian matured into a key figure at Anfield, following the departures of Xabi Alonso and Javier Mascherano, but saw his campaign cut short last season by an anterior cruciate ligament injury picked up in December 2011.
Lucas' recovery was further hampered by a torn thigh muscle in August, however, since returning to the side in December he has been ever-present, and now he believes the stellar performances of old are returning.
He told the Daily Mail: "I am not there yet but I feel I am getting very close to my best level.
"It feels like a good time again. I was sure if I worked hard, I could make it happen. I’m very happy it has.
"After Pepe [Reina] and Daniel [Agger], I have been the longest here. [Jamie] Carragher and Stevie [Gerrard], of course, are out on their own but each season you are here, your responsibility grows.
"I am not a kid anymore. I have responsibilities and to be a role model for these kids is something that makes me really proud.
"It has been an amazing experience. All the work I have put in behind the scenes is beginning to show through."
The former Grêmio man endured a rough ride from Liverpool fans at the start of his career in England back in 2007, and he freely admits it took him considerable time and effort to adapt to life far from home.
Lucas added: "It was very hard. At first I couldn’t speak the language, I didn’t have many friends and family was not here.
"It was a struggle to get to know people and I found it difficult getting involved in the day-to-day things that went on at the club.
"Yes, the food was different and the city was new but I lead a quiet life and those aspects were not too much of a problem. I just felt that if I could handle it all, I’d get there.
"I needed to be mentally strong otherwise it would have been tough."
Source: Daily Mail