I had to develop both physically and tactically in England, says Lucas Leiva
Liverpool midfielder Lucas Leiva has revealed it is very difficult to make the transition from Brazilian football to English.
There has been an influx of Brazilian players to the Premier League in recent seasons, with the likes of Oscar, Ramires, David Luiz, Philippe Coutinho, Sandro, Paulinho and Fernandinho plying their trade in England.
But Lucas, who left Grêmio for Anfield at the age of 20 in 2007, has described how difficult it is for his compatriots to adapt after making the switch from Brazil.
"I felt as if I was moving at 50 km/hour while everyone else on the field was at 100," the 26-year-old told FIFA.com.
"I wasn’t prepared for that and needed to develop both physically and tactically. That’s why many players choose not to go directly from Brazil to England. In Spain and Portugal, and even in Italy, the pace of the game is different.
"So much so, in fact, that early on I performed better in Champions League games than in the Premiership. In terms of the speed of the game, it was like going from one extreme to the other."
The midfielder managed to adapt though and even changed position to a more defensive role, after thrilling Brazilian football with his displays in 2006 and 2007.
Lucas added: "With Grêmio I carried an element of surprise, and on many occasions operated practically as a central midfielder.
"However, due to the pace of the Premier League, I changed positions. Even though I was 20, I couldn’t cope with the demands of joining the attacks and tracking back all game long.
"[The then Liverpool coach Rafael] Benitez soon realised that I felt more comfortable playing in a deeper role, winning back possession and starting attacks.
"Nowadays I’m so comfortable with this position that it feels like I’ve always operated in it. I am, without question, a more complete player now because, should the match scenario require it, I can even play a more attacking role."