Liverpool midfielder Lucas Leiva has signed a new long-term contract with the club.

The Brazil international is currently enjoying his best season in a red shirt since arriving from Gremio in the summer of 2007 for £5million.

Lucas has grown in stature as a central midfielder following the departure of Xabi Alonso and Javier Mascherano in recent seasons and made his 100th Premier League appearance against Wigan in February.

"For me it was an easy decision because I know how big Liverpool are and I can see Liverpool are committed to me and are planning for a future with me," said Lucas.

With the 24-year-old's previous contract having only just over a year to run - and continued speculation about Liverpool renewing their interest in Blackpool's Charlie Adam in the summer - there had been suggestions Lucas could be on his way out.

Only this week he was linked with Serie A side Napoli but the likeable Brazilian always insisted he wanted to remain at Anfield and he has got his wish.


 

Lucas was a much-derided figure among many fans for a lot of his early years on Merseyside, although former manager Rafael Benitez's confidence in the player was unerring.

The Spaniard's faith was ultimately proved well-placed as the midfielder has established himself with both club and country.

Lucas added: "The effort from the club was amazing and that makes me feel an important player. That's why it was an easy decision.

"I am pleased with the way Liverpool tried to keep me and now I want to keep doing my best for them. I don't think people thought I could stay here for so long, but now I want to just keep on improving.

"I am really happy. The last few weeks have been really good for me and now I have signed a new contract and can spend more years at Liverpool I will do my best all the time and try to help the club to be bigger and bigger, if that's possible."

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