Lucas Leiva
Leiva is more than showing his worth to Kenny Dalglish in the heart of Liverpool's midfield. REUTERS

Tony Cascarino has praised Liverpool midfielder Lucas Leiva for reigniting his Anfield career and silencing his previously numerous critics.

The Brazilian international was the outstanding player during Liverpool's 1-1 draw with Premier League leaders Manchester City on Sunday, defying those who questioned his ability to play at the highest level a little over a year ago.

Leiva has taken his time to adjust to the rigours of English football since arriving at Liverpool in July 2007. He was initially subjected to some scorn from the notoriously partisan Anfield crowd but he has since emerged as one their most consistent performers.

The midfielder was instrumental in Liverpool's keenly fought victory over Chelsea last week and was even better at Anfield on Sunday, when his timely interventions and swift distribution enabled Kenny Dalglish's side to gain a foothold against Manchester City.

Tony Cascarino believes it is a measure of the 24-year-old's recent brilliance that Leiva looks like an entirely different player from the ponderous youngster who looked out of his depth at Liverpool initially.

"What has happened to Lucas Leiva? Is this the same player?" Cascarino old The Times.

"A year ago, it would have been impossible to imagine him grabbing a game by the scruff of the neck.

"Now he's doing it on a weekly basis."

Leiva was the Standard Chartered Fans player of the year last season and in the continued absence of Liverpool talisman Steven Gerrard, the midfielder has improved even further this season.