Brazilian World Cup-winning midfielder Rai has heaped praise on compatriot Lucas Leiva.
Liverpool midfielder Lucas has been on the the receiving end of criticism from a large sector of Anfield fans since arriving from Gremio in 2007 as a highly-rated 20-year-old.
But despite the boo boys, Lucas has played an integral part in the Liverpool line-up under Rafa Benitez, Roy Hodgson and, most recently, Kenny Dalglish.
Lucas’s improved form has been recognised in his home country, earning him a regular place in the international first team alongside the likes of Alexander Pato, Robinho and Dani Alves.
And the Brazilian is now endearing himself more to Liverpool fans – and Rai, who won the 1994 World Cup with Brazil, believes the Anfield outfit have got themselves a quality young midfielder.
He told the Liverpool Echo: “Lucas was so young when he first got into the Brazilian national team after making such a good start with his club.
“In my opinion his ability is at a level that justifies him being in the group of the national team. He has the quality to play in Liverpool’s side too.
Lucas has made 24 appearances in the league for Liverpool this season, playing an important role in the centre of midfield by allowing more attack-minded players such as Steven Gerrard and Raul Meireles the chance to head forward.
He has also played seven times in Europe for the Reds this season, scoring once.
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