Gremio president Romildo Bolzan Junior has confirmed his club have made an approach regarding a possible return to Porto Alegre for Liverpool stalwart Lucas Leiva. The versatile midfielder, who spent his formative years with the Brazilian outfit before completing a £5m ($6.2m) transfer to Anfield in 2007, was widely linked with a move away from Merseyside during the January transfer window, with his contract due to expire at the end of the season.
A potential loan switch to long-term suitors Inter Milan never came to fruition with the Nerazzurri instead opting to sign Roberto Gagliardini, while reported interest from Atletico Mineiro also failed to materialise as manager Jurgen Klopp revealed an agreement for Lucas to stay put beyond the end of the window.
A return to Gremio has also been talked up, although Romildo admits that any deal would be tough to complete.
"Lucas Leiva is a player who is in the fans' imagination," he was quoted as saying by the Liverpool Echo. "He is a player that would be important to bring, we made an approach, but at the moment he is out of our possibilities.
"I'm not going to feed false expectations. It's very difficult for Lucas Leiva to come to Grêmio, we made an approach and the conditions are very difficult."
Used somewhat sparingly before January, Lucas, a former target for Turkish giants Galatasaray, has started six games to date for Liverpool during their notably rocky opening to 2017.
He captained a youthful side during an FA Cup third-round replay victory over Plymouth Argyle and most recently partnered Joel Matip in Premier League matches against Hull City and Tottenham Hotspur with Dejan Lovren suffering from a knee injury and Ragnar Klavan laid low by a bacterial infection.
"He has a great personality, is a good player and a really good guy," Klopp said after watching Lucas, currently Liverpool's longest-serving player, end his seven-year scoring drought at Home Park earlier this month. "Sometimes you have to line up without him, and it's not his hobby to accept this. But he's okay and really important for us."