Lucas Leiva is wrapping up his tenth season with Liverpool, which makes the upcoming summer the 19th or so transfer window in a row that he's been linked with a move away from Anfield. The tenuous Lucas to Inter Milan rumours have been a transfer window staple for the past decade, and although the midfielder has stated that he's come close on at least one occasion, for the most part, it has all been lazy rumour recycling to fill column inches.
Perhaps due to the plentiful sentimentality and wistful gazes back in time surrounding the former Grêmio attacking midfielder's ten-year anniversary, or perhaps the fact that his contract runs out in six weeks' time, but there is a sense that this might be the season Lucas brings the transfer rumours to life. His words do little to dispel this notion.
“I just want to thank Liverpool Football Club for giving me the opportunity to come to such a big club," said the Brazilian international when presented with a Special Recognition Award on Tuesday night. "To be playing [here] for 10 years is a massive achievement for me. I’m really proud and proud of my family as well. It’s special.
“It seems that it’s a long time but, to be honest, it has gone very quickly. Of course in difficult moments, it goes a little bit slower. But, overall, it has been very positive – I have learned a lot and I have improved as a player and as a person as well.
“Liverpool is a family club. I feel I have made many friends and people that will be part of my life forever. That’s why I’m so grateful.”
It is difficult to read these words and escape the creeping sensation of finality. Whether the club's longest-serving player knows something we don't about where his immediate future lies is currently unclear, but according to whispers on Thursday, it is less fashion capitol of the world and more England's hippest city. Yes, newly promoted Brighton & Hove Albion are reportedly lining up a number of Premier League-savvy veterans to aid the club's bid in making their long-awaited return to the top flight a successful one, and Lucas Leiva is near the top of the list.
As a free signing with 344 top flight appearances for the Reds, Lucas would provide the Seagulls with a wealth of experience, and having only turned 30 this year, he doesn't necessarily have to be strictly a short-term solution either. Certainly, he doesn't possess the physical capacity he did at the height of his powers, but given that his abilities were never predicated on superior athleticism, but rather reading and understanding the game, there is a sense that he could age well, even in the rough-and-tumble of the Premier League, particularly in a side that plays less expansive football, requiring the Brazilian to cover less ground.
No matter what ends up happening this summer, Lucas has been a faithful servant to the club, and it is nice to see him given the appreciation he deserves, and that he has been denied by so many corners of Liverpool fandom over the course of his career.