Lucas Leiva's 10 years at Liverpool: 10 reasons he's still so important to squad

In May, Lucas Leiva will celebrate 10 years at Liverpool since joining from Brazilian side Gremio.

After a testing start to his Reds career, Lucas has gone on to prove people wrong and made over 340 appearances during his 10 seasons at Anfield.

On Monday, Liverpool players of past and present gathered at a dinner to honour the Brazilian's service for the club.

ESPN FC lists 10 reasons why Lucas is still a valuable asset to the Merseyside outfit.

10 years a red . Congratulations @leivalucas ��������

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1. He can still play at a high level

His days as regular starter may be in the past, but Lucas has proved he is still able to compete in the Premier League with certain performances this season.

After Dejan Lovren was ruled out of the Tottenham Hotspur game in February, Lucas stepped in at centre-back and kept Harry Kane quiet in a 2-0 win at Anfield. The Brazilian also deputised during an injury crisis ahead of the recent Merseyside derby and was one of the team's top performers in the 3-1 victory.

At 30 years of age, Lucas has made 27 appearances in total this season.

2. He's a versatile option

Originally brought to the club as a promising attacking midfielder, Lucas quickly found his role as a defensive anchor under Rafa Benitez.

He continued in the role until last season when Jurgen Klopp felt his game-intelligence would enable him to play at the back

Lucas can operate as defender or midfielder, and it's a useful skillset for a squad player.

3. He's an example to youngsters

Earlier in the season, when recovering from a hamstring injury, Lucas appeared for Liverpool's under-23s against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium to rebuild match fitness.

His 45-minute outing was not his only contribution on that night in August.

"I've got to say, he is a real, real class act," former U23s manager Michael Beale told ESPN FC afterwards. "He sat behind me and gave me feedback on the young players and what he sees.

"I would take a thousand Lucas Leiva's, that's for sure."

4. He's popular around the club

The fact all his current teammates attended the dinner on Monday night is further proof just how highly Lucas is regarded at the club. Also on the guest list were former colleagues Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher, as well as Manchester City's Fernandinho.

He is a popular figure among the supporter base, too, known to be an adopted Scouser for using the local accent and phrases.

5. Lucas has proved people wrong

After he was booed by his own fans in a match against Fulham in 2008, it would have been hard to imagine that Lucas had any sort of long-term future at the club.

Testament to his determination, Lucas turned around his career at Anfield and became an integral member of the starting XI under Kenny Dalglish.

In a working-class city like Liverpool, Lucas has grafted to get where he is, and still shows he has fight left in him when people continue to doubt him.

6. Liverpool is his priority

Lucas has had plenty of opportunities to leave Liverpool. Every summer his future is up in the air and he seems to be the brink of a move away.

However, last summer saw him put the club's interests before his own. Sources told ESPN FC in December that Lucas turned down a big-money move to Turkey as Klopp required him to provide cover at centre-half.

7. He helps new players settle

Lucas has been known to help South American players adjust to life in England when they first move to Liverpool, but his advice is not just limited to certain nationalities.

Indeed, captain Jordan Henderson recently spoke about his appreciation for the help Lucas gave him after moving from Sunderland in 2011.

"Any person joining Liverpool Football Club, regardless of age, status or experience, who is looking for a role model or an example to follow then, for me, you look no further than Lucas Leiva," Henderson said.

"It doesn't matter to Lucas whether you're from Runcorn or Rio, he'll make time for you and look to offer his experience to help individuals or the team when it's needed."

8. He's a rare experienced head in the dressing room

Lucas has been on a rollercoaster of a journey during his 10 seasons at the club. He went from challenging at the top of the Premier League and the latter stages of the Champions League under Benitez to hovering above the relegation zone during Roy Hodgson's ill-fated spell.

He has seen pretty much everything, and this current Liverpool squad is young and lacking in experience. It's another reason why Klopp should have second thoughts about moving him on the summer.

9. He proves it's possible to recover from serious injury

Lucas was at the top of his game until he tore his anterior cruciate ligament in December 2011. Injuries have continued to blight his career, but he has proved time and time again that there's always a way back.

10. His family is part of the club

Lucas is ingrained in Liverpool and his son is part of the club's academy. Liverpool may have another Brazilian star on their hands in the form of young Pedro Leiva.