Rafa: Lucas will prove to be pivotal

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Liverpool midfielder Lucas Leiva will prove to be one of the club’s most important players, according to Reds' boss Rafael Benitez.

The Brazilian has had to endure plenty of criticism following Liverpool’s poor start to the season.

But his manager believes the 22-year-old has a bright future ahead.

“When you analyse the situation, you will see that he is a young player who came to a big club like ours,” the under-fire Spaniard told the club’s official website.

“It was different to anything he had ever known and he had no other option but to adapt.”

Lucas arrived in 2007 from Gremio and has featured in every one of the Merseysiders’ opening 11 games this term, playing a pivotal role in their recent victory over title rivals Manchester United.

And having faced stiff competition from midfield generals Xabi Alonso and Javier Mascherano during his first two seasons at Anfield, Lucas has now established himself as a regular at the heart of the Liverpool midfield.

“He has also had to get used to the language, the way of life, and it was a problem for someone who had spent all their life initially in Brazil,” Benitez continued.

“Yet he shows character every single game and every single day when he is training.

“He works hard, he is always trying to improve. Now we are watching him and we can see he is playing well at this moment in time but we know he is going to keep getting better in the future.”

Lucas recently burst on to the international scene with the Samba Boys, winning three caps under Dunga, and has been named in the squad to face England in Qatar next weekend.

“He is a very good professional and I think that a lot of our fans realise he is someone who gives everything on the pitch for them,” Benitez said.

"His confidence is growing, he’s trying to take responsibility and he is doing everything. I’m pleased for him and pleased for us because the club is the most important thing.”