Lucas: No longer the player he was

lucas-LeivaLucas Leiva, the 26-year-old Brazilian, has emerged in recent years as one of Liverpool’s more consistent players racking up high appearances a season and performing at a high level, he has even been called up to the Brazilian national team on numerous occasions.

This season however he has not seemed the player that established himself as an integral member of the team. Lucas is no stranger to criticism, having a nightmare start to his Liverpool career he was accustomed to being booed of the field, the ridiculous long hair did not help his popularity.

The exit of Mascherano and Alonso from the club was to be the dawn of a new era for Lucas, it gave him a new responsibility, he new he could become a regular in the team and he took his chance and hasn’t looked back since. The injuries suffered by Aquilani in his time at Liverpool may have been a blessing in disguise for Lucas.

Lucas began to make an impact in the starting 11 in the 2009-2010 season but the 2010-2011 season was the best of his career, in that season Lucas was voted fans player of the year an accolade that would have undoubtedly pleased him considering two years prior to this the same people were booing him on a consistent basis.

Lucas was starting to be recognised as one of the top defensive midfielders in the Premier League and even signed a new long term contract with Liverpool, a contract he deserved for his great performances.

The 2011-2012 season started off in similar fashion Lucas was a key player breaking up opposition attacks and putting Liverpool on the front foot with his quick passing, in December however his season was cut short after suffering an anterior cruciate ligament injury against Chelsea in the League cup quarter final which ruled him out for the remainder of the season.

His recovery was a lengthy one and on his return to competitive action against Manchester City in August of 2012 he injured his thigh and was ruled out for another three months, although he has now recovered from these injuries and is a first team regular once again the form he experienced before the injuries still eludes him.

In 2012-2013 Lucas was substituted 10 times, more than ever before in his Liverpool career, he seemed to have lost that yard of pace that used to enable him clean-up in front of the back four. It is no coincidence that in the last two seasons Liverpool’s defence have struggled.

Liverpool’s back line never really changed an awful lot in the last few seasons, Agger and Skrtel had developed a partnership that was working brilliantly but last season they both seemed very exposed, why was this? The main reason was Lucas was not stopping the attacks and the two defenders were under more pressure than ever.

This season Liverpool have brought in Sakho at the back to try and return to what was once a solid base of the team but as of yet it has not worked. Liverpool have conceded nine goals in the last six games which is not a good stat for a team challenging for a top 4 place.

The main blame keeps on being put on the defenders but its time people questioned Lucas’ contribution, at Arsenal on Saturday his performance was poor, the midfield was completely overrun and he was unable to stop Arsenal from driving straight through the Liverpool midfield and piling pressure on the defence.

Two years ago, Saturday’s game would have been perfect for Lucas, a real midfield battle where he could enforce himself on the game but he could not do it on this occasion and it cost Liverpool dearly.

It is fair to say Lucas is not the player of a few years ago when he was capable of keeping tabs on players such as Cesc Fabregas, he can still do a job at Liverpool but he needs competition in his position to drive him on.

I think it’s time Liverpool looked to investing in a new defensive midfielder because Lucas at this moment is just not good enough to help them achieve their goals.

Author Details

Cormac O'Shea

Journalism student at DCU, Liverpool fan, author of sports blog "Read The Game" and football enthusiast.

8 thoughts on “Lucas: No longer the player he was

  1. Do you not feel that having a 33 year old beside him who legs have gone, makes Lucas having to do twice the work in trying to protect the defence? Look at Arsenal’s two goals on Saturday, those weren’t down to Lucas’s inability to protect the back 3. Liverpool needed a Wanyama type of player in the summer, went to Southampton and compliment their defensive midfielder Scheiderlein. Liverpool needed that type to compliment the Brazilian not replace him.

    The big question for Rodgers is does have the bottle to take of Gerrard(when injured like during the game against Arsenal) or drop him. The problem in the Liverpool side at the moment is we don’t have he brawn or athletic midfielder beside Lucas to dominate the midfield which like against Newcastle and Southampton previous to Arsenal we were over run. The onus just doesn’t fall on Lucas here, falls on Gerrard and Henderson to do the job that Lucas is not there to do be the engine in midfield. Lucas is what he is and that will never change, the no longer player he was is a red herring when the problem is we don’t have that Wanyama type in there to dominate the centre of park.

  2. I reckon that it is not fair to put the entire blame on Lucas for arsenal game. It’s poor team work and tactics that failed Liverpool. Aly was truly uncomfortable playing as a wing back. SG lack of mobility especially after the 75 mins.. He looked exhausted or perhaps the minor hip injury took a toll on him. SAS were isolated, trying to win the game themselves. Give the team some breathing space and work out the mistakes. But BR needs to sort out his midfield setup quick or formation to make sure we do not repeat the same mistakes again. Be brave to take SG off if he is not 80%.

  3. Do you both not feel Lucas has lost a yard of pace and does not seem to rack up the number of tackles he used to, also Rodgers seems to want to play this system so Lucas needs to be able to deal with the workload he has, and if he cant they will either have to change tactics or get a stronger player in his position, Gerrard may be a slight blame but Lucas still has not performed at a high level

  4. As we seen on Saturday albeit against a bad Fulham side. He played very well, the lad never was the quickest just like people kept saying that Sami Hyypia lost a yard of pace when he was never the quickest. Liverpool need an upgrade on Lucas granted or someone to compliment him. Either way, it would be stupid to get rid of a player who still as a key component in our side. I think the system deployed on Saturday suits him because it allowed him to do what he does best protect the back four in a 2 central midfield partnership.

  5. ye i saw the game on Saturday and he was excellent but i feel he might not be good enough if we want to get where we want to be, surprisingly i was always a fan of Lucas i just think he needs to prove himself against a big team to show hes capable

  6. No better opportunity than against Everton Saturday week. Still a long way away from the player than dominated the midfield against Man City there nearly 3 year ago at Anfield. Best performance in a Red shirt I’ve seen.

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