Lucas Leiva’s heart set on Liverpool

LIVERPOOL’S latest South American recruit Lucas Leiva rejected late interest from Everton and Manchester United to move to Anfield, it was claimed today.

The 20-year-old Brazilian was finally given the all-clear to complete his £5m move after being granted a European passport earlier this week.

He was unveiled in Hong Kong today ahead of a possible debut against Portsmouth in the Asia Cup final tomorrow.

Manager Rafa Benitez said a host of Premiership and European clubs were anxious to sign the midfielder, who he believes will add to the competition for central midfield places.

“We knew Lucas could be a good signing because he played at a high level for Brazil Under-21s. A lot of other top clubs were after him, so we had to move quickly,” revealed Benitez.

“One of those other clubs plays in red, and Lucas told me the other wears blue, but I won’t say which.”

Leiva told the manager Everton and United were those clubs, while Atletico Madrid were also hoping to secure a deal.

But Liverpool had already made significant progress in bringing the player to Merseyside.

“The Brazilian players usually think about coming to Europe and play in Spain or Portugal,” said Benitez.

“Lucas’ uncle is a former player called Leivinha, who played for Atletico Madrid. He was a very good player.

“Lucas thought about following his uncle to Spain, but then he liked Liverpool. He knows it will be difficult, but I’m sure he will be a very good player.

“He is a good worker and he is a winner.

“He’s a midfielder who likes to move from box to box. He’s not Steven Gerrard, but he likes to get forward.

“We are preparing a team for the short term and for the future, and Lucas is part of this. He will have a part to play this season.

“He has the personality and character to succeed here.”

Lucas says he’s not overawed by the prospect of competing for a place against so many high profile names like Gerrard, Alonso and Mascherano.

“I’m not intimidated by playing with these players. I hope to show them how well I can play,” he said. “I know a lot about British football. It’s a different way of playing here because it’s much faster.

“I hope to learn quickly with the help of my team mates. I hope we can play well together to achieve good results in the future.”

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