Rumours are gathering pace that Liverpool are ready to offload Brazilian midfielder Lucas Leiva in January, leading to the befuddlement of many a Reds supporter.
The rumour mill suggests Brendan Rodgers’ desire to chase Aston Villa’s in-vogue centre-mid, Fabian Delph, will see Liverpool’s loyal servant shipped out to either Napoli or Inter to make space.
Liverpool line up against Delph and co next, where the away side are 9/10 to take revenge for their Anfield defeat with victory, but here are three reasons why the decision to sell Lucas is completely flawed:
1. There is no better defensive midfielder at the club
Those screaming, ‘what about Steven Gerrard?’ will appreciate that the soon-to-be-departing legend has only been effective in a more natural advanced role this season.
Simply put, the skipper’s 34-year-old legs do not permit enough grass coverage for the key position anymore.
Lucas, meanwhile, has never pretended to be anything other than a protector of the back four, and having been scarcely appreciated during his first few years at the club, the fans’ decision to vote the Brazilian as their player of the season in 2012/13 is testament to his quality.
Emre Can is the latest signing to arrive baring the tag of ‘defensive midfielder’ though he’s played anywhere but, while of the myriad of midfielders on the books at Anfield none are specialised holding ones.
2. Liverpool win more games when the Brazilian plays
His performances are often understated, but the stats do not lie. Liverpool have lost none of the last dozen games in which Lucas has played, while last season’s league silver medallists have lost eight games without him compared to just two overall in 2014/15.
The last time the seven-game unbeaten Reds did taste defeat was their 3-0 humbling at Old Trafford and Lucas was omitted in favour of Joe Allen.
Of the 13 games Liverpool have won this season, the former Gremio man has started nine which cannot be coincidence.
Only two Premier League players have made more tackles per game than the 3.8 Lucas has managed this season also.
3. With Gerrard leaving Lucas’ experience is essential
After Gerrard, there is no longer-serving Liverpool player than the man Rafael Benitez plucked from the Brazilian top flight for £5m in July 2007.
Now a veteran of four Champions League campaigns and into his eighth season with the Merseyside giants in all, it would leave another massive hole in the squad in terms of experience to lose the 28-year-old.
The number 21 also has 24 caps for Brazil and although he doesn’t carry the cult of personality Gerrard does, it’s vitally important for a dressing room to have such players around for youngsters to look up to.
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