Lucas Leiva believes Luis Suarez is “too strong” to be put off by abuse from Manchester United supporters when Liverpool face the league leaders at Old Trafford on Sunday afternoon.
The Uruguayan forward is in superb form with 15 league goals this season, but is “laden with controversy” according to United’s manager Sir Alex Ferguson, most recently handling the ball while scoring against Mansfield in the FA Cup.
And while the striker is set for a hostile reception in Manchester once again after being banned for eight matches for racially abusing Patrice Evra last season, his Brazilian team-mate insists Suarez will not let it affect his game.
“I don’t think it will bother [Suarez]. He’s too strong to worry about it,” he told reporters.
“He gets it at every stadium, so this is just one more for him. He copes very well with it and if people still criticise him for everything, he keeps on scoring goals.”
Sir Alex Ferguson previously suggested Suarez may in fact enjoy the negative attention he gets, but Lucas feels for his team-mate during such times, and is impressed by his ability to keep performing despite the reaction from the stands.
“It’s not nice to see a player, a friend, get that amount of abuse but that’s the way it is,” he continued. “But he’s showing his quality on the pitch – and that’s the most important thing.
“It doesn’t seem to worry him too much. If it did, it would have affected him on the pitch.”
Liverpool travel to Old Trafford 21 points behind Manchester United – a win could send the Reds seventh in the table, while three points for the Red Devils would guarantee at least a seven-point lead over champions Manchester City.