When Liverpool’s ideal starting team for next season is mentioned, Lucas Leiva is far from the first player in any one’s thoughts.While he may not be of the quality required to be in the starting XI, he will certainly have a role to play next season. The Brazilian has been a fantastic servant to Liverpool, out-serving 4 different managers.
When Jürgen Klopp arrived at Anfield, Lucas earned a lot of praise despite doubts that he could perform under the German. The long serving midfielder was an important figure in the team in the early months of Klopp’s tenure. He was key in the club’s eleven match unbeaten run which included Klopp’s first league win against Chelsea.
There were doubt surrounding Lucas’ suitability to play in Klopp’s team due to his lack of mobility. Despite these doubts, Klopp deployed him in a dynamic midfield role which allowed him more freedom than before and he often found himself in positions to shoot – which is humorous even at the worst of times.
While Klopp laughing at Lucas shooting is great it’s not very relevant. Lucas excels as a defensive player and this was clear in his best performance of the 2015/16 season against Chelsea. While he should’ve been sent off, he was a constant nuisance in the middle of the park. His ability to consistently break up attacks before they’ve even begun is a dying art.
Despite his purple patch it came as no surprise when he was usurped by Emre Can, who grows in stature by the day. With Klopp favouring his German counterpart in the holding midfield position it seemed as if Lucas’ days at Liverpool were numbered as his game time certainly was.
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That was until Liverpool suffered an injury crisis around Christmas and Lucas was shifted to centre-half as an emergency. Surprise, surprise he was silently solid. Exactly what you want in a defender. Nathaniel Clyne is another who has done that to a tee this season with the Englishman being consistent in the Liverpool back four.
Liverpool have yet to sign another centre-half other than Joel Matip and there is very little indication that Klopp will do so. Perhaps, this is because Lucas Leiva is set fill this role for the remainder of his Liverpool career? If so, it would be a great idea. It would offer the ability to play the ball out from the back with Martin Skrtel often lacking the ability to be assured in possession.
Nothing is certain at the moment with it being very unclear what Jurgen Klopp wants. What is clear is that he wants to shore up Liverpool’s defence and Lucas is a good backup option.
Featured Image – Liverpool ECHO