Lucas Leiva has backed fellow countrymen and Liverpool teammates Roberto Firmino and Philippe Coutinho to help fire the club to success next season.
The attacking midfield duo recently began pre-season training at the club’s Melwood training complex, with the former being the first to arrive after having the summer off. Firmino, who joined from Bundesliga side Hoffenheim, had a glittering first season with Liverpool, recording 11 goals and 11 assists.
However, it didn’t all happen in the wave of a magical wand. The pace and physicality of English football can take some getting used to and fans and experts could be forgiven for thinking Firmino was finding the challenge too tough, after only a few months with the Reds.
Lucas feels that his teammate had an impressive season and is confident the Brazilian is finally settled at Anfield. The 29-year-old has also expressed his hope that Firmino’s form can get better next season.
“He had a very good season last year, but normally in your second season you get better, you play better,” the midfielder told Liverpool’s official website.
“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.”
One man who certainly didn’t have the summer off is Philippe Coutinho. The little magician, as he’s well known, had yet another individually brilliant campaign with Liverpool, where he scored 12 and assisted 7, earning himself the club’s ‘Player of The Year’ award. He added to that by further staking a claim for his place in Brazil’s national team in the near future – despite this being in a disappointing Copa America tournament for his nation.
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Lucas believes Coutinho can use that disappointment as motivation ahead of what is set to be yet another big season for both him and the Reds.
“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,” he added.
“He scored a hat-trick [in Brazil’s 7-1 thrashing of 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.”
Liverpool fans will agree with everything Lucas has said of his teammates and will hope that Coutinho, in particular, can finally go about his business without the unwanted rumours linking him with an exit from the club. The little magician has already proved a key component of manager Jürgen Klopp’s squad and will be vital again as the German looks to live up to the high expectations set by the club next season.
As for Firmino, he’s surely going nowhere, so the Anfield faithful can also look forward to enjoying the delightful partnership that was made in Brazil.