Liverpool midfielder Lucas Leiva admits he is unsure whether Jurgen Klopp will involve him in the club's first team next season, as the German coach embarks on his first summer transfer window since moving to Merseyside. The Brazil international made 30 senior appearances last term, but competition for places in his favoured position makes his future uncertain.
Lucas has been among Klopp's staunchest supporters since the German succeeded Brendan Rodgers in October 2015. The 29-year-old was often forced to operate out of position at centre-back during a defensive injury crisis at Anfield but would naturally prefer to return to a role at the base of the midfield.
But he must compete with Joe Allen, Jordan Henderson, James Milner, Emre Can and Cameron Brannagan for that spot, meaning he could yet spend much of the new season out of contention at Liverpool. Lucas is therefore considering his options ahead of the start of pre-season training on 30 June, but wants to remain in England should he be made surplus to requirements.
"There have been some changes last season, with the coaching. I still don't know exactly what will be my role within the group, but I am returning on Thursday to start the pre-season," he told Radio Jovem Pan. "It is the first transfer window that Klopp will participate in more actively in for Liverpool, so I'll have a better idea when I return [for pre-season]. Whatever happens, the idea, as always, is to remain in Europe, mainly in England, which has a very strong and good league to play in."
One year remains on Lucas' contract, meaning Liverpool are unlikely to recoup much – if any – of the £5m they paid Gremio for his services in 2007, according to BBC Sport. Six players have already left the club this summer including German youngster Samed Yesil and Portuguese youngster Joao Carlos Teixeira, but Lucas' future is likely to be shaped by his role during pre-season.
Klopp's first summer in charge sees the club play eight friendlies before the Premier League season kicks off on 13 August. Matches against Football League opposition is followed by the annual International Champions Cup, which includes a clash with Barcelona at Wembley, prior to a meeting with his former club Mainz.