With Lucas Leiva left out of the matchday squad for Liverpool’s first two games of the season and widespread reports of interest from Italy and Turkey—there were even quotes from Besiktas officials claiming a deal was nearly done—it was easy to think of the midfielder’s days at the club being all but done.
Then, he was recalled to anchor midfield against Arsenal on Monday night, and despite tiring late on, he was key to a hard-fought draw. Liverpool’s midfield held their own against title aspirants Arsenal, and much of that was thanks to Lucas’ work at its base, screening the defence, covering the fullback, and retianing possession.
"Yes," was Brendan Rodgers’ straightforward response after the match when asked if he expected Lucas to still be at the club next Tuesday after the window closes. Given his status as the club’s only true holding player and that Liverpool’s results have consistently been better with him in the lineup, it’s cause for celebration.
"Lucas is the best defensive midfield player we have," added the manager. "There are games I will want to play three midfield players and not always want a specific defensive one, but when we look to do that, he’s the best we have. He came in at Arsenal and did a great job, and he is very much a part of what we want to do here.
"Of course every player wants to play every minute of every game, and you can never guarantee that as a manager, but he is certainly very important to what we want to do and he’s highly respeced by myself, the coaching staff, and all the other players."
With Adam Lallana, Jordan Henderson, and Joe Allen out injured, Lucas could get another chance in the coming weeks to show that results on the pitch tend to be better for Liverpool when he’s in the lineup. Assuming he stays, at least. Which after last night appears, thankfully, to be an increasingly likely outcome.