||Squad number: 21
Date of Birth: 09/01/1987
1st team games: 197
1st team goals: 6
Birth Place: Dourados, Brazil
Midfielder Lucas Leiva signed for Liverpool in July 2007 for a fee in the region of £6m.
After coming through the ranks at Brazilian club Gremio and making his debut in October 2005, Lucas soon became the youngest player ever to win the Bola de Ouro, the Brazilian player of the year award which has been won in the past by Zico, Romario, Kaka and Carlos Tevez. A host of top European clubs were interested in signing the youngster, but it was Rafa Benitez who sealed the deal and made him a Liverpool player.
The midfielder captained his country's under-20s to the South American Youth Championship title in 2007, scoring four goals along the way, and it was no surprise that senior coach Dunga was starting to take note. Lucas was selected to play against Al-Kuwait in October 2006, but the game was not recognised by FIFA as an official tie and so did not count as his international debut. That came in August 2007 when he came on as a substitute in a friendly with Algeria.
Lucas made his Liverpool debut as a second-half sub in a Champions League qualifier against Toulouse on August 28, 2007, and was handed his first start on September 25th when he partnered Momo Sissoko in a 4-2 Carling Cup victory over Reading. He made thirty appearances in his first season at the club and scored one goal, a scorcher in the FA Cup against minnows Havant & Waterlooville.