LUCAS LEIVA has made Champions League qualification Liverpool’s target for next year – but hasn’t given up hope of reaching Europe this season.
Kenny Dalglish’s side head to Aston Villa on Sunday needing to better Tottenham Hotspur’s result against relegation-threatened Birmingham City to snatch back Europa League qualification.
The Londoners moved a point clear of Liverpool in fifth place with a 2-0 triumph at Anfield at the weekend.
Lucas, though, is already turning his thoughts to next season having been encouraged by the transformation Dalglish has engendered since taking over from Roy Hodgson as manager in January.
“At the beginning of the season we were around the relegation zone,” said Lucas. “I don’t think anyone was expecting us to finish fifth or sixth and that’s a great comeback.
“It’s an achievement but we are Liverpool and we want to finish higher than that.
“The Champions League is the biggest target for us but we just have to finish well and start next season with a really positive mentality and attitude and then we’ll have a big chance of making our fans smile again.”
Lucas believes Birmingham’s desperation for a result at Tottenham to avoid relegation could aid Liverpool’s quest for an unlikely fifth-placed finish on Sunday.
“I think Birmingham will try to get points from Tottenham and that helps with the way they’ll approach the game,” he added. “They have to get points or they could be relegated.
“At the end of the day it’s not in our hands so we just have to do our job. Hopefully then something good will happen for us.
“Villa just beat Arsenal away which shows they are really committed. They have had difficult times this season but they have a good team, a good squad. They showed against Arsenal they can beat any team.