Matthew Johnson explains why keeping Lucas Leiva is a good move.
There has been a lot of speculation this summer window regarding Liverpool’s number 21, and whether a concrete offer from Turkish giants will lure Lucas away from Anfield. However the Liverpool Echo report that the Brazilian isn’t going anywhere.
Lucas arrived in the summer transfer window of 2007 from Brazilian outfit Gremio. He struggled to live up to the so-called ‘hype’ at the beginning of his Liverpool career, although he did become the first ever Brazilian to score for Liverpool in 2008 and over the years he progressed into a fan favourite of the Anfield faithful.
Leiva has never been a ‘flashy’ type midfielder, creating and scoring goals was often the job for the likes of Steven Gerrard and Xabi Alonso. However, his job is simple yet effective; break up play and pass the ball to the creative players in order to start an attack. Such a composed player on the ball, who will rarely give the ball away. When Jürgen Klopp arrived as the manager of Liverpool in the 2015/16 season, Lucas was sometimes used as a central defender in rotational games because of his ability with the ball at his feet, enabling the team to play out from the back.
Of course every player has a weakness, Lucas has been criticised for his defensive responsibilities and committing easy fouls in dangerous areas. Emre Can has seemed to of taken over Lucas’s position in the team as Klopp sees the young German to be more physical and suited to the way he wants to play. However, the Brazilian midfielder is seen as more than capable to step in when needed and used as a squad player.
In terms of selling Lucas, there are several factors that need to be assessed. Replacement? It is quite clear Liverpool have lacked defensive midfielders in recent years, so if Liverpool was to offload Lucas, a solid replacement seems quite unrealistic with not much time in the window left and academy players such as Kevin Stewart are yet to show their worth if Emre Can was to pick up an injury.
It is important for football clubs, especially in the Premier League, to have depth in their squads if they are to be successful, and this has been a massive issue for Liverpool FC over the years. Lucas Leiva would arguably be a solid and fantastic replacement if someone was to pick up an injury; he knows English football well, he’s experienced, he’s composed on the ball and you can always rely on him to give 100%.
Putting into context the Brazilian’s strengths and weaknesses on the pitch, his impact off the pitch and behind the scenes can’t be forgotten. Lucas is very good with young and new players; often helping out with the academy by putting an arm around their shoulder and giving them confidence. He was also very effective with helping fellow Brazilian duo Coutinho and Firmino settle in Liverpool. His experience and character gives other players confidence and freedom, which is just as important as his impact on the pitch.
At this moment in time, it should be seen as the most sensible idea to keep Lucas for one more season. This allows the club to monitor academy players’ worth over 12 months and judge whether they are ready for the step-up because at this moment, it doesn’t seem so. The Liverpool squad is very young, and it is important to have some kind of experience in the team; having lost the likes of Kolo Toure already.