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Lucas: I nearly left Liverpool

Lucas Leiva has said he nearly left Liverpool in 2010 and believes former Anfield boss Roy Hodgson signed Christian Poulsen to replace him in midfield.

• Blog: More midfield woe

The Brazil international, bought by Rafa Benitez in 2007, felt his days on Merseyside were numbered after the Spaniard left and Hodgson arrived to replace him.

Hodgson brought in Poulsen, who had played for him at Copenhagen, but the Dane only lasted a year at Anfield - whereas Lucas was named Liverpool's Player of the Season in 2010-11.

Lucas told Liverpool's official website: "I felt as though it was almost the end for me at the club. I nearly left.

"I knew they were looking for players. They signed Christian Poulsen at the time, and that was a message for me that I was not really in their plans."

The midfielder had the chance to move to Serie A but said his Liverpool career was revived when Kenny Dalglish took over from Hodgson.

He explained: "I was really close to leaving to go to Italy. For some reason I did not go, I stayed. After a few games, I got my place back in the team and I started to play a bit more.

"Then Kenny came in. I really started to play with a lot of confidence, and at the end of the year I was voted Player of the Season by the fans. So that moment was very important."

Lucas signed for Liverpool at the age of 20 and said he was too young for such a big move.

He struggled to win over the Anfield crowd in his first three years in England and added: "For me to come here and to try to get into the team competing against [Steven] Gerrard, [Xabi] Alonso, [Javier] Mascherano and [Momo] Sissoko was very hard.

"I left Brazil in a really good situation and here I was sometimes not even on the bench. It was a difficult period for me, but I think it was worth it. Today, I realise how important it was for me to have that struggle because it taught me to work hard.

"I was very young coming over from Brazil to Liverpool, a massive club. I knew about the pressure - but it was more than I thought, and today I can see I was not ready. It was just a process. It was hard but I had to get on with it and be patient."

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