Liverpool’s longest serving player Lucas Leiva has lauded his countrymen today, waxing lyrical about two Brazilian team-mates.
Lucas has been with the club since 2007, and despite the fact he’s unlikely to be a first-team regular in 2016/17, and may even depart before the season commences, he’s had very kind things to say about Roberto Firmino and Coutinho.
“He [Firmino] had a very good season last year, but normally in your second season you get better, you play better,” the midfielder told Liverpoolfc.com.
“He knows the team now, he knows the players – he’s got a good connection with some players already, so we hope he can maintain the level of performance he had last year and hopefully even improve.
“I think he showed in many games that he can be a very important player for us and hopefully that will be the case this year.”
It took a while for Firmino to find his feet on Merseyside, with injuries and the fact Brendan Rodgers used him out of position affecting his form. But when Jurgen Klopp arrived Firmino improved tenfold, contributing double figures goals and assists by the end of the campaign.
Now settled in England, and with a full pre-season under his belt, we have very high hopes for him this season.
As we do Coutinho, who returns to Melwood today after a break following the Copa America…
“Brazil had a very bad tournament, it didn’t go well for them, but Philippe – I would say he had a very good tournament, he was probably the best player for Brazil,” Lucas added.
“He scored a hat-trick [in Brazil’s 7-1 win over Haiti], and I think he left of course disappointed, but happy with the way he played.
“It’s another big season for him. He showed in the last two or three years that he can be the difference in our team, and I’m sure he will come back with a lot of energy and looking forward to starting again.”
Coutinho is now entering his prime, and will continue as our talisman this term. The no.10 managed 12 goals in 2015/16, despite being injured for months, so if he can maintain fitness – we’d love to see him better that total – as he’s progressively scored more goals each season since arriving in 2013.