Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has made a U-turn over the future of midfielder Lucas Leiva, confirming the Brazil international will remain at the club beyond the end of the summer transfer window. Lucas made his first appearance of this season in the goalless draw with Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium, as a replacement for injured captain Jordan Henderson, despite seemingly being on the brink of joining Besiktas.
The Turkish club have held talks with The Reds over a move for Lucas, who did not feature in either of the club's match day squads for the opening two games of the season against Stoke City and AFC Bournemouth. Though Steven Gerrard had departed to LA Galaxy, James Milner was acquired on a free transfer from Manchester City to fill the void in central midfield and therefore pushed Lucas fall further down the pecking order.
Lucas was replaced after 76 minutes by 18-year-old Jordan Rossiter, making his league debut, and the Brazilian appeared to away goodbye to the travelling Liverpool fans upon his removal. However, Rodgers has confirmed that the player will stay at Anfield, admitting he remains the club's best defensive option in midfield.
"Yes [he is staying]," the Liverpool boss said, according to Sky Sports. "Lucas is our best defensive midfield player. There are games where I play three midfield players but not always with a defensive specific one, but when we do need that, he is the best one we have. He came in tonight and done a great job and is very much part of what we want to do.
"But of course every player wants to play every game and every minute of every game but you can never guarantee that as a manager. He is highly respected by me, the coaching staff and the players."
Rodgers had already confirmed that players currently on the sidelines at Liverpool would be allowed to leave before the window closes on 1 September. Mario Balotelli, who is on the brink of securing as return to AC Milan, Fabio Borini and Jose Enrique have trained away from the first team so far this season and could all be offloaded.