Over the past few months, whispers that Lucas Leiva would make the switch to Serie A have grown to a heavy rumble in the Italian press, and over the past week a number of outlets have begun to suggest it’s only a matter of time before Liverpool’s Brazilian midfielder completes a move. The destination that has been agreed upon is Inter Milan, where Roberto Mancini is looking to rebuild a struggling side.
The manager has so far brought in Xherdan Shaqiri and Lukas Podolski to bolster his attack, and now he is reportedly set on bringing in Lucas—a player he is well familiar with from his time at Manchester City—in to anchor his midfield. The Italian press believe that the player is willing to make the switch, and if there’s any truth to just how badly Mancini wants him, it would be hard to blame Lucas for being tempted.
Though for a time Lucas established himself as the best holding midfielder in England, injury and Brendan Rodgers’ decision to shoehorn Steven Gerrard into the deepest midfield role had made him something of a spare part. He spent the majority of 2014 stuck to the bench. Some of the club’s fans—many of whom took to him grudgingly if at all even when he was the best in the league—had written him off completely.
In Lucas’ position, presented with the opportunity to move to a big club in another league to play for a manager who has made you one of his top targets, most would happily take it. The complication appears to be that a little more than a month ago, Brendan Rodgers began to cut back on Gerrard’s minutes. That in turn led to Lucas’ reintroduction as a regular starter. And that in turn led to a much improved Liverpool side.
It perhaps shouldn’t have been a surprise. After all, many had thought Lucas the ideal holding midfielder for Brendan Rodgers when the manager first arrived, and before the player was benched to make room for the captain, some of the club’s best performances under their new manager had relied on him. Lucas hadn’t been sidelined because he had stopped being a good player. He had been sidelined for Gerrard.
Six weeks later, and it’s clear that that was the wrong choice, at least this season. It’s clear in the performances and results since his reintroduction that Liverpool would have been far better off if he’d been starting regularly from August onwards. That—that rediscovery that a player who was once the Premier League’s best holding midfielder is still useful—makes Roberto Mancini’s interest more than a little problematic.
A few months ago, Liverpool would have sold him to Inter fairly eagerly. There were even rumours during the autumn that they were actively looking to find a January destination for him. And for the player, given he has been marginalised and treated like a spare part for much of Rodgers’ time at the club, Inter would make for an appealing destination. Now, though, Liverpool and Brendan Rodgers don’t want to lose him.
According to the Italian press, this stance is frustrating Mancini and Inter, who had believed they could land Lucas fairly easily and are now faced a Liverpool side trying to keep hold of him. It is believed, though, that Inter remain interested and may be willing to increase their offer, previously thought to be around £8M, as they seek to tempt Liverpool to sell a player whose value the club have suddenly rediscovered.
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