It became clear almost immediately that Lucas was not suited to a role in Liverpool's midfield other than the one occupied by Steven Gerrard for most of the season's second half. December saw Lucas combine with Jordan Henderson and Joe Allen to great effect in the captain's absence, putting together a "defining" performance away to Spurs and showing signs of returning to his best after struggling with injuries most of the previous season. Gerrard's return to the squad still relegated Lucas to the bench, however, and a promising cameo in the second half of the 2-2 draw against Aston Villa was cut short by yet another injury, this time ruling him out until the middle of March.
He made eight appearances since coming on late at Old Trafford, and more often than not he featured in an advanced midfield position with Gerrard carrying on as the deep-lying playmaker. Occasionally he looked the part--his pass to Jon Flanagan resulted in the match-winning penalty at West Ham--but he largely struggled to cope in a situation that simply asked too much of a player whose skill-set was ill-suited to the role. Both Gerrard and Lucas need energy and endurance around them to be successful, but only one was going to be accommodated.
And that's been the challenge through this transition--rectifying the transition for Gerrard with the alienation of Lucas. It proved a gamble worth taking, but Brendan Rodgers effectively sacrificed Lucas for the sake of ensuring Gerrard had a part to play for the rest of this season and beyond, which makes it sadly unsurprising that talk of an exit for the Brazilian inevitable. Gerrard will surely remain in his current role next season, leaving Lucas as a backup in his best position at a time in his career when a starting role is likely expected.
Today speculation came in the form of reports from Gazetta dello Sport that Inter have an interest in the player to the tune of £10.5m, which is apparently a valuation set by Liverpool. It may or may not actually be a thing, but after discussion earlier in the week about players that might leave at the right price, Lucas' future seems increasingly tenuous.
If and when he does leave, there won't be any celebrating on this end. He's been a tremendous servant during a Liverpool career that will have been bookended by criticism and cruelly interrupted by injury; it took him a few seasons to work his way into supporters' good graces, and when he finally hit his peak, he was derailed by an extended layoff through injury. Through it all he's been, by all accounts, a terrific teammate and one of the leaders in the squad, offering support for new teammates and representing the club well at every turn.
Selfishly I'm hopeful there's a way for his Liverpool career to last, and that we'll have a chance to see him get back to his personal best just as the club look to be returning to theirs.