LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, May 21, 2017: Liverpool's Lucas Leiva salutes the supporters after the FA Premier League match against Middlesbrough at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Lucas Leiva enjoying surprise career development away from Liverpool

Lucas Leiva found himself stagnating in the final season of his Liverpool career, but has since reinvented his game with Lazio in Serie A.

Lucas spent 10 years on Merseyside before departing for Rome last summer in a £5 million deal, with Jurgen Klopp having struggled to provide him regular game time.

Since joining Lazio, the Brazilian has made 39 appearances for the Italian outfit, including 36 as a starter, missing only two league games so far due to injury and suspension.

He is close to doubling his minutes tally from last season, rising from 1,778 with the Reds last term to 3,056 so far in 2017/18.

And liberated in a more free-roaming midfield role under Simone Inzaghi, Lucas has now matched his best-ever goal record for a single season at Liverpool, with three.

Two of those have come in the past two games, with another ex-Red, Luis Alberto, providing the assist for both.

His first effort in this impressive back-to-back scoring run came away to Dynamo Kyiv in the Europa League, rising highest to head home from Alberto’s in-swinging corner in a 2-0 victory.

This sealed Lazio’s place in the quarter-finals, where a two-legged clash with Red Bull Salzburg awaits.

Three days after his goal at the NSK Olimpiyski, Lucas was on target again as i Biancocelesti drew 1-1 at home to Bologna in Serie A:

With Alberto spotting Lucas’ run off the shoulder of the Bologna defence, the Spaniard picked out his older counterpart with a perfectly weighted through pass.

Lucas collected the ball on the turn with his left, dummied a shot to shift onto his right before firing home beyond Antonio Mirante to secure a vital equaliser.

This draw helped Lazio keep up with the rest of the pack in the race for a top-four finish, with a place in next season’s Champions League in sight.

Given his perception as past his best at Liverpool, this is a welcome revival for Lucas in Rome, with both he and Alberto proving that there is life after Anfield with a well-placed move.

Lucas’ form could see him improve on his three-goal tally before the season’s end, and at just 31 he can hope to contribute to Lazio’s cause long into the future.

Along with his trio of strikes, Lucas has also registered six assists so far this campaign, more than in any single season for the Reds, with his highest being five in 2009/10.

Incredibly, Lucas’ three goals and six assists for Lazio is more than he produced in the previous six seasons for Liverpool, scoring one and assisting six between 2011/12 and 2016/17.

On his exit last summer, Klopp vowed that “the door is always open” for Lucas at his old club, with a view to overseeing a move into coaching in the future.

But his performances for Lazio suggest he is a long way off retirement just yet.

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