LUCAS LEIVA is convinced Philippe Coutinho’s move to Liverpool FC can help him finally realise his potential – but has urged supporters to be patient with his fellow Brazilian.
Coutinho marked his first start since a £8.5million move from Inter Milan last month by scoring a fine solo effort during 5-0 Premier League romp over Swansea City at Anfield on Sunday.
The 20-year-old was signed by Inter from Vasco da Gama when just 16, although he remained on loan at his hometown club until July 2010.
Coutinho made his senior Brazil debut a few months later but struggled make an impact at Inter and spent the second half of last season on loan at Spanish side Espanyol.
And while Lucas admits it will take time for his compatriot to acclimatise to English football, he believes the strong South American connection at Anfield can encourage him to succeed.
“Every single young player that comes to the Premier League finds it difficult when they first come and it is going to be the same for him,” said Lucas.
“But we have already seen a lot of positive things from him. He has got the ability to do well. We just need to keep positive on him and give him the nice message that he will be okay.
“His reputation in Brazil is very high but he left home very early. He was only a boy. We could not see him playing in the first team in Brazil back then, because he had only played a few games. It wasn’t enough to gauge how he was doing.
“When he was at Inter, he didn’t get the opportunities he thought he would get. Here this is a new challenge for him.
“He has settled very well and it will help him that there are a few South American players here already. We will help him settle.”
Lucas added: “He is still adapting. I have been talking to him about the pace of the Premier League and even in training, he can feel it is much quicker than Italy.
“He will need time to settle but one goal will give him confidence and after he scored it, we could see good things from him. He will be a great player for now and for the future of Liverpool.”
Lucas also hopes the morale-boosting demolition of Swansea was the ideal preparation for Liverpool’s Europa League rescue mission on Thursday.
Brendan Rodgers’ side must overturn a 2-0 deficit against Zenit St Petersburg at Anfield in order to set up a last 16 time against either Basel or Dnipro.
“We started the week thinking it could be a really good week for us,” said Lucas. “But we had the defeat to West Brom and then the Europa League loss but we have finished the week off in a positive way by scoring five goals and keeping a clean sheet.
“We know we still have to improve a lot but this victory will give us confidence going into Thursday to try to get through against Zenit.
“With the way we played over there, we created a lot of chances, if we do that again and take them then we'll have a great chance of getting through to the next stage.
“But we also have to defend well on Thursday because if we concede an away goal it will be very difficult for us.”
Meanwhile, teenage left-back Jack Robinson has joined npower Championship side Wolverhampton Wanderers on loan for the rest of the season.
The 19-year-old has made six appearances for Liverpool so far this season but hasn’t featured in a matchday squad since starting last month’s FA Cup defeat to Oldham Athletic.