He is not from Serie A, or La Liga, Bundesliga or Ligue 1. He is not even playing in South America. To top that all off, he won’t even cost another penny.
That is because he is playing in the Premiership…
That player is the much maligned Lucas Leiva. The 23-year old was, despite Torres’ two goals, undoubtedly man of the match against Chelsea yesterday. He harried, broke things up and let players like Rodriguez, Meireles and of course Gerrard cut open the Chelsea defence.
Not even 12 months ago (in some cases, not even a week ago), many Liverpool fans have been highly critical of Lucas, many just questioning what he actually brings to the team. I will tell you what he has always brought; a buffer to the back four and an ability to get win the ball and get it to the more creative players.
Lucas has had many obstacles to overcome in his Liverpool career, which have been the proverbial ‘monkey on his back.’
Firstly, it is the pure fact is that he is a Brazilian midfielder. To the 99% of Kopites who had not seen Lucas play for Gremio, those two words alone bring images of Socrates, Zico, Kaka and Ronaldinho and Lucas could not be more unlike those if he tried.
Secondly, there is Benitez’s opening Press Conference after Lucas signed, when he announced:
“I am looking forward to seeing him score goals for Liverpool in the future and [we] believe he has the mentality and the character you need to do well in England”
Suddenly, Liverpool fans were expecting this English-style goal scoring, all-action midfielder, i.e. another Gerrard. Now Lucas had another false preconception put on him, this one coming from his own manager.
Finally, he has spent most of his Liverpool career next to Mascherano. Basically, he was being put next door to a clone. Therefore you have two guys next to each other on their own side of the centre circle, neither of them wanting to be the one to break out and create something. Therefore, the midfield looks lost on the ball and uncomfortable in possession.
Yesterday, with a midfield around him that had players who like to attack and create with purpose, the true Lucas came out.
Liverpool fans thought they were getting the new Gerrard, they were actually getting the new Mascherano, only six months after they had actually got Mascherano!
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