Lucas Leiva completes £5 million move from Liverpool to Lazio after 10-year Anfield career

Liverpool's longest-serving player, Lucas Leiva, has moved to Serie A side Lazio in a £5 million move after spending 10 years on Merseyside.

Lucas Leiva completes £5 million move from Liverpool to Lazio after 10-year Anfield career
(Picture: Getty Images - Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA)

Lucas Leiva has officially signed for Lazio in a £5 million deal, bringing to an end a 10-year Liverpool career. 

The Brazilian has signed for the Serie A outfit over a decade after moving to Merseyside, where he has since made 346 appearances.

The 30-year-old agreed terms earlier this week after a fee between the two clubs was agreed and said his farewells to the Liverpool squad and staff at Melwood, the club's training ground, on Friday.

Lucas leaves in search of more regular first-team football, having started just 19 of 47 games in all competitions last season.

Lucas was greeted by huge cheers from waiting Lazio supporters when he landed at a Rome airport on Sunday evening and wore a blue and white scarf.

He joins a Lazio side that finished fifth in the Italian top-flight last season, qualifying directly for the Europa League group stages in the first season under new manager Simone Inzaghi, younger brother of former AC Milan striker Filippo Inzaghi.

Reds' longest-serving player moves on

Lucas' departure means there are no Liverpool players remaining from Rafael Benitez's time in charge, leaving captain Jordan Henderson - who joined four years after Lucas - as the club's current longest-serving player.

Lucas has long come close to a move away. He nearly signed for another Italian side in Inter Milan back in January, staying at Liverpool to help ensure a top-four finish,

He also nearly moved to Galatasaray last summer and fellow Turkish team Besiktas the previous year.

The midfielder was even linked with a return to Gremio earlier this summer, though it is likely that a deal was not deemed possible due to the player's wages - which the Brazilian outfit were unable to match.

Doubts have long persisted about his future, but he has sacrificed his desire for more minutes to play an important squad role under several different managers.

Lucas enjoyed a tumultuous but remarkable Anfield career, starting as an attacking midfielder when he signed from Gremio before becoming an accomplished holding midfielder.

Midfielder has regularly had to quell critics

He moved back further to centre-back in the last two seasons, repeatedly defying his critics throughout his Liverpool career.

Lucas was so unpopular that he was booed by sections of the Anfield crowd in November 2008 - his first season at the club - in a league clash against Fulham.

But he overcame numerous hurdles to eventually become one of Liverpool's best and most pivotal players, establishing himself as an excellent defensive anchor in the middle and earning the Player of the Year Award in 2010-11.

Having reached his best form for the club, his improvement was derailed by a cruel knee ligament injury in December 2011 which sidelined him for the rest of the season.

Lucas returned to fitness but was not as important a player under Brendan Rodgers and found himself in a similar position under Klopp, though found himself in the frame for the starting eleven more consistently after converting to a central defender.

The Reds' No.21 has played much of his football in defence over the last two seasons, though returned to a more familiar midfield role towards the second-half of 2016-17 - including memorable performances in home wins over Everton in the Merseyside Derby and Tottenham Hotspur.

He made 31 appearances last term, scoring his first goal for the club in seven years - or 2,316 days - with the winner in an FA Cup third-round replay at Plymouth Argyle. He was also handed a Special Recognition Award at the club's post-season awards in recognition of his service to Liverpool. 

Lucas' 45-minute appearance in the 1-1 pre-season friendly draw with Wigan Athletic on Friday proved his last outing for the club with his absence for Sunday's flight to Hong Kong for the Premier League Asia Trophy telling.

Liverpool FC