Love is in the air… Lucas Leiva…


Lucas Leiva..Liverpools unsung hero

It’s the ninetieth minute of the derby. The club’s legendary captain and best player has already been hauled off in a brave but controversial decision to hand a league debut to a young, 20 year old midfielder. However, in the last minute the young lad pounces and secures a late, great, famous victory for his side against their biggest rivals. As you can imagine the lad becomes an instant hero and would go on to great things naturally being a fan favourite from the off and remaining one for years to come. Roy of the Rovers stuff, eh?

It’s actually Lucas of Liverpool stuff. Or it would have been if it wasn’t for that pesky Phil Neville. Instead, foreshadowing Luis Suarez’s far more famous yet equally cruel handball against Ghana in the World Cup 2010, the less talented of the two odious brothers punched it off the line. In this alternative world known as reality, Dirk Kuyt stood up, slotted away the penalty and his second goal of the game to become the hero. Meanwhile Lucas quietly faded into the background whilst his manager oddly received criticism for the substitution that ultimately won the game. Soon Lucas was shamefully booed by a small section of his own fans in what he described as one of his lowest points. His first goal, a great curling shot it must be said, instead came a few weeks later in the less romantic (for him anyway) FA Cup tie against minnows Havant & Waterlooville.

Lucas Leiva hasn’t always won everyone over. However whilst playing for Gremio, at just 19, he was the youngest Brazilian player to win The Bola de Ouro (The Brazilian Championship’s Footballer of the year award) . He also has his share of admirers including two times La Liga and Champions League winning coach Rafa Benitez. Oh and Brazilian midfield legend Dunga is also a big fan. However, for a long time much of the media and armchair supporters were simply not fans. Neither it turns out was fairly clueless CEO Christian Purslow who apparently recommended his sale to new manager Roy Hodgson. Lucas though has always been up against it. He progressed into the side just as Xabi Alonso left in his prime and also as Liverpool generally fell apart in the 09/10 season for various reasons. If you actually watched the football it was clear that the problem was definitely not Lucas but if you didn’t, and you watched Sky and read the tabloids, it apparently was. Last season Jamie Redknapp pulled out a marvellous moment of punditry excellence when he said Liverpool were struggling because they missed Alonso, highlighting Xabi’s fine performance in the 4-1 victory at Old Trafford as a case in point. Of course, Alonso didn’t play that game. The man dominating the midfield was Lucas Leiva. Liverpool’s number 21.

He is turning out to be Liverpool’s Darren Fletcher. The butt of jokes from many who either haven’t watched him properly or have no understanding on the game of football, he is now turning into an integral part of both his club and international sides. Some reports showed that in Liverpool’s first away win of the season- and the time of writing only so far- Lucas attempted 48 passes. That is more than any of Liverpool’s other midfield players and he completed 46 of them. This is a staggering 96% of his passes, which compared favourably with his more respected midfield partners Steven Gerrard (72%), Raul Meireles (80%) and Joe Cole (76%). Before anybody says it, the passes weren’t all sideways and backwards either- one led to the only goal of the game.  He also attempted 12 tackles; the other three combined made just 13 between them. That’s just one example though, he’s been doing it all season.

So the quiet, unassuming Brazilian has been Liverpool’s star performer for a while now and has, it finally seems, proven his critics wrong. The signs were there last year and at just 23 years of age there’s still plenty of time for him to further develop and win over even the most stubborn and ardent of his detractors. At £5.5m he may well turn out to be one of Benitez’s most astute and inspired signings. All of this for a third of the price of Anderson. Maybe the last word should not be from me, but from the man who signed him.

“People just don’t know how good Lucas is. He is a fantastic player, he was captain of his club side at 19 and has already won full caps with Brazil. Not just any country, but Brazil. He has captained their under-21s and their Olympic team.” Rafael Benitez (December 2008)

By Alex Davis (please let me know what you think, by commenting and rating this article)

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About alexdavis90
I'm a twenty year old life-long Liverpool supporter currently studying History at Reading University. Attempt to play football from time to time either as a lumbering striker or a mediocre centre back. You can follow me for ramblings on Twitter for any ramblings: @AlexDavis90

30 Responses to Love is in the air… Lucas Leiva…

  1. ED says:

    Definitely worth a free pint

  2. Niall Owens says:

    brilliant article, I remember the derby game very well and the sheer disappointment I felt at the goal being denied! My biggest fear (although recent weeks may have calmed my fears) is Rafa Benitez moving for him and Liverpool selling him for around the 6million mark (at least half his value). His is very much so of the Fletcher type player (I myself have written 3 pieces on Fletcher in the last year and have been mocked by so called fans) and every team needs a player of this kind, is it any coincidence that Fergie picks Fletcher for the big games and still feels despite being outclassed that Fletcher’s absence at the 2009 Final cost united the Champions league title.
    The flack Lucas has recieved from the fans is dying off I was at a few games last year and he impressed me hugely with his goal against Benfica in the Europa league a goal which if Gerrard/Lampard or Scholes would have scored we would have had it played over and over again.
    He is young and is a huge talent if Liverpool are going to rebuild (which I think they will) he is key and with Gerrard’s advancing years and injuries more frequent perhaps a less holding role in the heart of midfield will truly see the boy from Brazil shine and win the hearts of the Anfield faithful.

    P.s Redknapp is a muppet …

  3. Alex Davis says:

    Cheers for the comment mate, much appreciated.

    Yes it’s good to see him getting the credit and I also feared about a club stealing him from us. Luckily he seems fairly settled and there was talk of a new contract from Comolli the other day. I’m sure the new NESV set-up won’t want to be losing young, valuable players such as Lucas so fingers crossed.

    Alex

  4. Glyn Jones says:

    spot on!

  5. ian says:

    I have been watching the steadily improving progress of Lucas over the end of last season and this season. I believe he will develop into an excellent player for Liverpool, it’s just his defending that needs to improve. For example not closing down against Carroll, allowing a free shot at goal. Mind you nobody else went to close him down either! Good article by the way

  6. Joe Phipps says:

    Great to see Lucas finally getting some of the kudos he deserves.

  7. bahn maxwell says:

    Doesn’t the current Brazil manager Mano Menezes also rate Lucas very very highly? I think he’s played Lucas in almost every game since he’s been in charge. I remember Lucas starting games for Brazil even though Hodgson said he was only good enough for the Liverpool B team.

  8. Alex Davis says:

    He does rate him highly and why I said wrote that I think he’s becoming an integral part of his national team too. I think a lot of people in football rate him quite highly to be honest, even Roy has finally realised he’s a far better player than Poulsen.

    • bahn maxwell says:

      Thank goodness – for Liverpool’s sake. One of the few things that Roy has done right. Although he wouldn’t have had to if he didn’t buy Poulsen in the first place!

  9. Paul says:

    Lucas is boss

  10. NeoASna says:

    Nice article. Seems not much words can be found on the net describing positively about Lucas Leiva. Short minded Liverpool fans often throw their hatred towards this lad during his progress of learning. He has developed himself to be a great tackler of an attacking midfielder. His vision of passing is increasing, his creativity remains creative as same as b4. He is a great passer and always b. He will b bossing the game when he got enough confidence and supports. And now he will get it more and more everyday.

  11. Ian Doyle says:

    Great article ! I have been praising him for years and telling ppl to shut up and give him a chance only to have ppl who clearly read the bloody tabloids and listen to the likes of Rednapp in order to form their opinions on football laugh in my face !! Bloody cheek !! Now they are sitting on their barstools talking the young fella up and telling ME how good he is ! If ppl actually watched the games and formed their own opinion Lucas wouldnt have to put up with the serious amount of abuse he recieved over the last couple of years.

  12. Rohan Giri says:

    Great article man.Seriously i never wrote him off. I knew he’ll cum out good. Even Stevie once mentioned that he’s still young he needs time. Well look at all the brazilians in EPL, hey haven’t just settled yet, Denilson, Sandro, Ramires and Anderson just to name a few. So have patience guys, he had an off-game against the NewCastle,but he will be back with vengeance against Fulham. YNWA.
    Kudos to Alex.

  13. Tom says:

    A great article Dave. And I agree Lucas has been a good signing, I would say he is better than Momo Sissoko, but he is still learning, he certainly isn’t the finished article yet. But I do believe he had the best percentage of successful passes last season.
    Well played, x

  14. Pingback: Roy Hodgson: How to Lose Games and Alienate People « upper90magazine

  15. Alan says:

    I had my doubts at first but he has improved year on year. Great article and hope we don’t lose a star
    of the future

  16. alexdavis90 says:

    If you like this article (and thanks to those who’ve commented so far) check out my new one on Roy

    http://upper90magazine.wordpress.com/2010/12/16/roy-hodgson-how-to-lose-games-and-alienate-people/

  17. BabuYagu says:

    Enjoyed reading both your articles today mate! Keep up the good work. Hope upper90 keep publishing them…. God knows we need more intelligent articles written about football instead of the dire nonsense that ex-pundits keep churning out which sadly most people take as gospel.

  18. Dont worry Babu; Alex is one of our main contributors and we will definitely be publishing his articles! Read all his previous work here http://upper90magazine.wordpress.com/author/alexdavis90/

    And subscribe to the blog by clicking the link in the top right corner of the page

    Cheers,

    U90

  19. alexdavis90 says:

    Cheers Babu,

    Glad people are appreciating the lads ability and thank you for reading the articles.

    Thanks
    Alex

  20. clive says:

    great article. i’ve admired Lucas as a player since he joined the team and told all my mates that have complained that they need to watch the game and his performances for the team; he gets stuck in, not afraid to make a tackle and works bloody hard for the team, covering a lot of ground and tracking back, putting in the tackles. ok, he’s had a couple of unnecessary sendings off, but thats because he was still learning how to play alongside gerrard, mascherano. don’t forget, his role alongside gerrard, alonso, masch was to be a holding midfielder, not another gerrard. but, we play better when Lucas is let off the reins and allowed to push forward. the other thing i like about him is that he’s been positive about the team during the summer and the dreadful start, not shying away from giving interviews when it would have been very easy to hide. despite the fans criticism he’s always worn the shirt with pride and put in a performance every week. he plays well with gerrard and meirelees; a definate unsung hero and worthy of his place each week. keep it up Lucas, you deserve the recent praise.

  21. steko says:

    Lucas Leiva football genius!!

    Agree with the crux of the piece and really admire the character that such a young lad shown with the disgraceful levels of abuse he received from so called fans.

    I find myself disappointed with the way that Liverpool fans [LIVERPOOL fans] booed a young man trying his best to forge a career in a new environment.

    The thing that impresses me most, apart from the aforementioned character, is his discipline. Very rarely caught out of position (he was covering for the big greek, that Roy – in his infinite football wisdom – chucked up front in the Newcastle match – much like any pub team manager when their team is behind) and always keeps possession with stats as good as Xavi (96% = fantastic!).

    And he’s only 23 with masses of Premier League experience.

  22. Marlon says:

    I’ll hold my hands up and admit that when we first signed Lucas I didn’t see a player that matched the hype I’d read about him. I remained unimpressed until last season when, for me, he found some consistency and started to impose himself on games more. He’s one of the few players in the team who’s preformances this season have impressed. Whether he’ll get the chance to establish himself as a more attack-minded midfielder remains to be seen, especially whilst Gerrard remains a force and Hodgson continues to play players out of position.
    I hope the boy goes on to achieve great things at Liverpool, he deserves it after the unjustified stick he continues to receive.

  23. Lee says:

    Agree 100%.

  24. Brett says:

    NO! Sure Lucas has done better since he arrived – how could he have done worse?!
    Let’s be honest – given a choice of midefielders, Lucas would NOT be the first on anyone’s team sheet.
    I’ve never seen him play consistently well. His first touch is often a let down and he is a soft touch in the tackle. Not how you woudl describe any Liverpool midfielders of the past. You could pick out more times he has not done something than when he has been good – not even great (has he ever had a great game?!) In a long line of Liverpool midfield greats, Lucas does not compare! Whelan, McMahon, Keegan, Dalglish, Beardsley, Barnes, McManaman, Hamann, McAllister and more recently Mascherano, Alonso and of course the ultimate Gerrard. It has been said recently that if Mascherano were there Lucas would not even get a look in. And rightly so. Meirles is a stronger player. Danny Murphy at his age is still a better bet than Lucas! Let’s not be complacent and just settle for a lad having done fairly ok. This is Liverpool dammit – we want the best! If we start having this opinion we are recognising him along with players like Igor Biscan and Isvan Kozma as being good Liverpool players. Please don’t – BE HONEST!

    • alexdavis90 says:

      Brett

      But he is first on people’s teamsheets, ours and often on none other than Brazil’s for a start. If his first touch is so poor how come he so rarely loses the ball, he often is a very good tackler in my opinion, often winning the ball. So although it is not how you would describe any Liverpool midfielders of the past it is also not how you would describe Lucas! As for he’s done more wrong than when he’s been good, that’s rubbish I’m afraid and he’s had plenty of great games. Bolton and Chelsea this season, Benfica at home last season and Old Trafford the year before when he bossed Anderson should pop into any Liverpool fans’ heads straight away.

      Then you compare him negatively to the greats – you are ignore the fact that Dalglish, Beardsley, Barnes and Keegan don’t even play in the same position as him! It’s like comparing Carragher to Rush! Lucas is different yet a very able player in his own right who is comparitively very young and has had to deal so far with far poorer teams than the players you mention had to. If Roy keep hold of him, which he should, he will be a very valuable player for us. If he sells him we may regret it. Not every player has to stand out in the manner of a Dalglish, some do there job simply, unassuming but effectively. Pass and move was the way we did it in the past. You clearly remember a selection of the starring cast of our history but you seem to be forgetting we had player like Lucas alongside them who, by carrying out their less glamorous roles allowed these stars to shine. And I’m being harsh on Lucas there, when the shackles are removed and he is allowed be more positive he is creative in his own right. Your comparisons to Biscan and Kozma are laughable.

      Shankly himself said ‘A football team is like a piano. You need eight men to carry it and three who can play the damn thing.’

      Liverpool’s problem does not lie in Lucas and never will. Lucas is very very good at carrying this piano, what we lack is a third man to play the damn thing.

      Alex

  25. Robbie says:

    would not give Lucas a game for the school team, he is terrible !

    • alexdavis90 says:

      Have you watched much of this season?
      he’s been Liverpool’s best player, not saying much necessarily but what do you think of the others if that is the case?

  26. Steven A says:

    I agree with Robbie he is pure s**t although he has improved.

  27. Andy B says:

    Consistent last year and continues to play well this year despite the rest of the team being atrocious.

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