Since the loss at Crystal Palace in November, Liverpool have managed something of a turnaround. It hasn't been a complete 180-degree switch, with a number of disappointing performances and results in the time that has passed, but they've lost just once--a 3-0 defeat at Manchester United in which they actually played well--since that 3-1 defeat, managing to keep themselves on the fringes of European qualification in the Premier League.
A large piece of that recovery has been Brendan Rodgers' ability to find a system that better fit the personnel available, which has included a return to the starting eleven for Lucas in a defensive midfield role. Absent in the loss against United, the Brazilian has found himself once again integral to Liverpool's successes while getting back to the form that saw him as one of the league's best prior to a string of injuries. His performance against an admittedly poor Sunderland side yesterday was probably his most efficient and effective of the season, underlining his importance to Rodgers' new-look formation.
That performance comes amidst significant speculation that he's still headed for an exit, however, as Inter boss Roberto Mancini has been open about his hopes of bringing the player aboard this month on a temporary or permanent basis. For their part, Liverpool aren't willing to part with the player on loan and are, according to James Pearce at the Liverpool Echo, yet to receive any sort of formal approach for a full transfer.
The club also aren't particularly interested in letting him leave at all given his growing influence. Sacrificed last season to try to prolong Steven Gerrard's Liverpool career, Lucas was largely ineffective while featuring primarily on the right side of a midfield diamond. Restored to his more natural role this season, he's been excellent, turning in a number of quality performances as Liverpool found stability and solidity this winter.
Short of Lucas demanding a move away--which would be understandable given how sporadically he's featured under Rodgers--this is not a deal that makes much sense for Liverpool, especially if they're expecting a quiet month for incoming transfers. Emre Can has been pegged by most as the successor to Lucas' role and may very well do so in the future, but in the more immediate future, there isn't anyone in the squad that can do the job Lucas has done in the past two months.
If they do agree a deal, that makes a defensive midfielder joint-top priority with goalkeeper in January, as they'll need added depth (and likely someone ready to start right away) in the position. And, from a purely sentimental standpoint, saying goodbye to another squad favorite this season would be difficult. Exits for Daniel Agger and Steven Gerrard will bookend the season regardless of what happens this month, and parting ways with Lucas as well would be painful.