Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers believes that the aggression and defensive solidarity produced by midfielder Lucas Leiva are key attributes to the team’s new shape.
The Brazilian international midfielder lost his place in the Reds XI last season following a lengthy spell on the sidelines with injury and the transformation of skipper Steven Gerrard in his new role.
The Kop hero took Leiva’s place as a playmaking defensive midfielder, a role which worked superbly alongside the attacking talents of Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge.
This season, however, the same shape has failed to have the same desired effect with the club’s new players, and the Merseysiders have looked defensively vulnerable throughout the season.
Following the Anfield outfit’s recent defeat to Crystal Palace – their fourth in succession – boss Rodgers opted to tighten things up and bring back the previously out-of-favour Leiva.
A subsequent upturn in results have ensured, and Leiva’s contribution and influence on the side has been evident as Rodgers speaks out on his importance.
“Lucas was one I never ever said that I wanted to move out. I think there was speculation, and a lot said. But he was never one we wanted to move on,” he is quoted as saying by the Mirror.
“He is an important part of our squad. It’s been difficult for him because last year we played Stevie in the play-making role suited to the players we had up to the top of the field.
“In the last few games we have gone with a different structure and needed a defensive midfielder in that role, and Lucas has done really well there.
“I think now in this period, whenever we need someone who can give us that defensive solidity in there, someone who can press the ball and give us that aggression, he can do that well.”