Lucas Leiva is expected to become a Napoli player shortly, if not within a matter of hours than certainly in the next few days. This is not a rumour. For many, even if it had become increasingly clear there was ever less room for the player, post-ACL injury, in manager Brendan Rodgers' side, it's also an incredibly sad thing to have to come to terms with. There's a silver lining, though.
That silver lining comes in the form of which club it is that's pushing for it to be a loan deal, with the rumour that this time it is Liverpool and not Napoli. It's a world apart from the situation the club found themselves in in recent seasons of having no choice but to subsidise players like Joe Cole and Alberto Aquilani and Pepe Reina. And it means Liverpool haven't given up on Lucas.
Loans for older players are rarely about getting game time and seeing if a player has what it takes to make it at their parent club, but with Liverpool's improved depth in midfield and Rodgers' approach to how he deploys that depth, Lucas was never going to get a proper chance at Anfield to prove he could work back from his injury issues. A loan helps to answer that question.
A loan means that if Lucas is able to rediscover his old form and stay fit all season at Napoli, where he'll be reunited with former manager Rafa Banitez, there might again be a place for him—especially as Steven Gerrard will be 35 years old next season. It seems a long shot, admittedly, but if true it means Lucas' departure isn't as clear cut as the club not believing in him any more.