Lucas Leiva keeps getting linked with a move away from Liverpool, and Steven Gerrard's exit hasn't seemed to alter the suspicion that the Brazilian is available for a decent fee to be reinvested elsewhere. Liverpool's midfield has lacked balance for long stretches of Brendan Rodgers' tenure at the club, though it must be noted that there have been some convincing and coherent midfield arrangements over the past three season, and players who can protect the defence are in short supply. The experiment with the departing captain in the "Pirlo role" seemed to end late last year with a back three and box midfield, a ploy that brought Liverpool's best run of the season and threatened to bring Champions League football to Anfield for a second successive season.
Accurate tackles, interceptions, anticipating danger, reliable use of the ball, experience, competence in the air, solid positioning, and understanding of the space between the defence and midfield are essential in a defensive midfield role. While Lucas is not the most mobile or durable, he remains the club's sole individual who can be termed as a defensive midfielder. Joe Allen and Jordan Henderson have worked well together in a double pivot at times, and both memorably featured alongside Lucas in a midfield three when Tottenham Hotspur were thrashed at White Hart Lane last season. Emre Can's future as a midfielder could be exciting after a first season of some promise, and James Milner has reportedly chosen Liverpool for central midfield minutes instead of being paid even more money at Manchester City.
Jordan Henderson, Joe Allen, Lucas Leiva, Emre Can, and James Milner may not be a star-studded midfield set, but there are some effective combinations that could provide the much-needed balance in the middle of the team. It seems that Lucas may not be among their number next season. The Daily Mirror reports that the 28-year-old midfielder is on his way out of the club as he lacks dynamism and offensive prowess. The charge of lacking mobility is fair, but judging a defensive midfielder on final third output seems unwise. The usual Napoli link because of Rafael Benítez is there, but the news that the former Liverpool manager could replace Carlo Ancelotti at Real Madrid within the week foils that rumour. Roberto Mancini could make a move and has been linked with the player for most of the year to strengthen Inter's midfield.
There's more upbeat Liverpool fans, the fun doesn't stop there. Lucas could be replaced by not a single soul apart from Milner, not a soul! This doesn't make sense, and while a move for Lucas could be on the cards, it appears unlikely that Brendan Rodgers and/or the existing transfer people would leave Liverpool so short in midfield. There are fans who remain unconvinced by the club's resident "water carrier", but would they applaud a strategy where Gerrard and Lucas exit with just Milner in their stead?