Lucas Leiva was one of the players heralded by Brendan Rodgers when the former Swansea City manager spoke of his enthusiasm for a certain way of working. The Brazilian has had an interesting journey since he sat down for a lengthy interview in late 2012. In fact, Lucas has had it quite difficult since arriving on Merseyside. Last season, Steven Gerrard was preferred to Lucas at the base of midfield as Liverpool made a surprise charge for the title.
This season was better for the experienced campaigner, and Lucas has confirmed his importance to the squad with some fine performances since returning to the side. Critics of Lucas point out that the mere existence of a defensive midfielder provides greater stability for the team. That would be unfair on a loyal, highly determined, and consistent player. Liverpool's problems may be deeper than some may care to address or examine, but Lucas is not one of them. Jamie Carragher has been sharing his thoughts on the issue and appears to feel strongly about Lucas Leiva.
He has had a big effect on the team and he's got to stay there. There was talk of Inter Milan making a bid, or other clubs looking at him and I'm not sure how long he's got left on his contract. He's not only got to stay at the club but he's also got to stay in the team because, at this moment, they are getting victories on the back of his performances. If we go back to Liverpool's defeat at Crystal Palace, where we were really critical of them, we said things had to change. If you look at the stats, the influence he has made has been noticeable to say the least. The one game that stands out is the Manchester United game, not because of the 3-0 defeat but because it was the one game Lucas didn't play. Brendan Rodgers made a few changes and brought his technical players back into the team. Gerrard is the playmaker and Lucas is completely different. He is a destructor in front of the defence and that's what Liverpool needed.He's always thinking defensively and is aware of what's going on around him, telling players to fill in for him when he vacates an area. He hasn't got the passing ability or range of Gerrard but he breaks up play, makes simple passes forward and initiates counter attacks.
High praise indeed from a man who deeply understands how to defend. Lucas' partnership with Henderson has protected the defence and looks more accomplished with each passing game. Liverpool may have moments where the team lacks the necessary organisation at times, but Rodgers has his pieces in the right places for a much more balanced side. With Can at right centre back and Gerrard in an attacking midfield position in his last few months at the club, depth in central midfield is thin. Joe Allen's return provides another option in midfield, but Liverpool fans must surely understand the importance of Lucas Leiva. Stepping in for him is no easy task right now.
The impressive performances keep coming and they don't look look like stopping, and hopefully Lucas will stick around beyond the end of the season.