Lucas Leiva is hoping to secure a return to former club Gremio as he prepares for a possible exit from Liverpool. The versatile Brazilian midfielder has made 346 appearances across all competitions since moving from Porto Alegre to Merseyside a decade ago, but could leave this summer in search of more regular first-team football.
It was initially believed that Lucas' current contract was due to expire on 30 June, although he subsequently revealed that he had one more year remaining and insisted he would sit down with Jurgen Klopp to discuss his future at the end of the 2016-17 campaign.
Previously a target for the likes of Turkish duo Galatasaray and Besiktas, Liverpool's current longest-serving player attracted interest from Atletico Mineiro in January and was even said to have undergone a medical at Inter Milan before the Nerazzurri opted to sign Roberto Gagliardini from Atalanta instead.
Klopp later revealed after watching stand-in captain Lucas score his first goal in seven years in an FA Cup replay against Plymouth Argyle that there existed a "kind of agreement" for him to stay put.
Club president Romildo Bolzan Junior admitted in February that Gremio had made an approach to secure the return of a player who is "in the fans' imagination", but conceded that any deal would be very difficult to complete.
Addressing that particular link again this week, Lucas admitted he did previously hold informal conversations with the Tricolor and is very open about his wish to return to Brazil. However, it appears that a potential move is far from guaranteed.
"There was an offer from Gremio in January, but I wanted to complete 10 years at Liverpool," he was quoted as saying by The Mirror. "Now in the window we had a conversation, but nothing official. I do not hide my desire to return to Gremio, but there are several factors."
Previously somewhat marginalised and affected by injuries, Lucas featured 31 times under Klopp last term and frequently reverted from a holding midfielder to centre-back to cover for the absences of first-choice partnership Joel Matip and Dejan Lovren.
He made a late cameo on the final day of the season in a 3-0 victory over relegated Middlesbrough that sealed fourth-place Liverpool's spot in the play-off round of next season's Champions League. The 30-year-old was given a warm reception during a lap of honour that followed what may well have been his farewell appearance.