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Liverpool’s Destroyer

29 Aug

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Liverpool’s Destroyer

Lucas Leiva made his Liverpool debut 6 years ago and it is amazing how his reputation has changed since his first appearance in a Red shirt. Lucas has been one of the most criticised Liverpool players in recent years, and I was one of his biggest critics. I thought Lucas was the worst Brazilian player I had ever seen, and the worst Liverpool player since Traore.

I used to think that he was too slow and too small and couldn’t tackle a fish supper but how wrong I was with my judgement. He has transformed into Liverpool’s most improved player, and I now rate Lucas as Liverpool’s most important player.

Liverpool lost a lot of talent in recent years with players of the calibre of Xabi Alonso and Mascherano leaving Anfield in recent, many people wondered if Lucas was ready to become a regular in Liverpool’s midfield after a much criticised beginning to life at Anfield. But he got his chance to play regularly in Liverpool’s midfield early in the 2110-11 season when Mascherano left for Barcelona. Mascherano was terrific in the holding midfield role and it was a big task for Lucas to step in and replace him.

Lucas made steady progress that season as a holding midfielder and after a brilliant start to the following season his season was cruelly ended by injury at Stamford Bridge when Liverpool beat Chelsea in the quarter-final of the League Cup. Lucas suffered damage to his anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee which kept him out until the start of the 2012-13 season.

Lucas’ bad luck continued when he suffered another injury in Liverpool’s second League match of the season against Premiership Champions Manchester City when he injured his thigh in the warm-up prior to kick-off. This injury kept him out for a further 3 months. But once again Lucas showed what a fighter he is by recovering from a serious injury not once but twice to return to Liverpool’s midfield.

Lucas came back into the team and played regularly last season notching up 31 appearances in total as his fitness and form improved with games. Liverpool’s form in the last 2 season has been highly influenced by Lucas’ appearances.

In 2011-12 Liverpool finished a lowly 8th position in the Premiership and I believe a large part of their problem was the absence of Lucas from the team from November until the end of the season. Whereas Liverpool had a terrible start to last season winning only 2 of their first 10 League games again in Lucas’ 3 month absence.

But when Lucas returned to the team in a regular basis Liverpool’s form and results improved, highlighted by an end of season run of only 1 defeat in the last 13 games.

Lucas has become so important to the Liverpool team in the holding midfield role and he has become one of the best in the Premiership in that role. The loss of midfield talent in recent years has given Lucas the chance to establish himself in the Liverpool midfield and he has grabbed the chance with both hands.

It is no secret that Lucas has endured some tough times in his Liverpool career, a young player moving to a different country to one of the biggest football teams in the world to apply his trade could not have been easy, but his treatment from some sections of the Liverpool support made it much more difficult, where many players would have struggled under that kind of pressure. But Lucas proved that he is a fighter both on and off the park as he fought and established a regular place in Liverpool’s midfield.

But the way Lucas has worked at his game by keeping his head down and improved his game has to be applauded. Lucas has worked on his strength and is very rarely knocked off the ball now as he appeared light weight in his younger days, and his reading of the game is a great attribute as he senses the danger of opposition attacks very early. Lucas covers every blade of grass during games and he rarely gives the ball away when in possession.

It has been obvious to notice Lucas’ value to Liverpool for his unfortunate absence through injury as no player has replaced him as effectively. Jordan Henderson, Joe Allen and Steven Gerrard have all recently tried to replace the Brazilian, but none have filled the role as well as results have proved.

Liverpool lost a lot of goals in the first part of last season when Lucas was out injured but their goals conceded improved greatly on Lucas’ return as he offers his defence superb protection.

Even in the first 2 games of the season Lucas’ statistics are impressive as Liverpool recorded 2 wins in their first 2 games along with 2 clean sheets.

Against Stoke Lucas attempted 74 passes with a conversion rate of 86.5% and he made 8 tackles winning 75% of them.

In Saturday’s game at Aston Villa Lucas made 5 tackles winning 60% of them and he also attempted 77 passes (more than any other Liverpool player) completing 90.9% them.

Statistics are not everything but they do prove how involved Lucas is in Liverpool’s midfield, his tackling and passing statistics are impressive and he is such a valuable part of Brendan Rodgers’ plans.

The holding midfield role is such an important position in the modern game with wing-backs pushing so high up the park in many games the holding midfielder has a lot of covering to do especially against the counter-attack to protect the centre-backs, and Lucas is excelling in this position as Liverpool’s destroyer.

Lucas is now 26 years old and is very experienced at Liverpool having played over 200 games for the first team and I can see him being a future Liverpool captain through his service at Anfield and also by his good organisational skills as he has grown in confidence over the years and looks a perfect candidate.

It is hard to believe Lucas made his debut for Liverpool 6 years ago and I hope he plays at least another 6 years for Liverpool. It’s funny how time can change your opinion of a player.

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