Lucas Leiva has gone from the Liverpool margins to becoming one particular of Jurgen Klopp’s most trusted midfielders.1 of the most surprising good results stories from Jurgen Klopp’s initial month in charge at Anfield has been the rejuvenation of Brazilian midfielder Lucas Leiva. Acquiring fallen out of favour under prior boss Brendan Rodgers, Lucas has been 1 of the players Klopp has leaned on most in the absence of Jordan Henderson and James Milner, he even captained the side in final week’s two-1 home loss to Crystal Palace.
When Klopp took charge and brought with him his greater-tempo, lung-busting “gegenpress” style of play, there have been a lot of (this writer incorporated) who felt that Lucas could possibly struggle much far more than most to adapt. Nevertheless the Brazilian has proved these doubters incorrect and is playing his excellent football since returning from a crucial knee injury sustained back in December 2011.
Prior to that injury, Lucas had been in the kind of his life but in no way ever truly came close to reaching that level since. Till not also extended ago, that is. His existing run of type is undoubtedly the greatest offered that he came back from that ACL injury. He’s started each Premier League game under Klopp and has been brought off the bench in each and every single of the cup games he’s been rested for. The German clearly trusts him, some thing Lucas hasn’t had in genuinely some time from a manager.
Klopp is the fifth manager Lucas has played beneath at Liverpool he is the longest-serving player in the current squad, as well, having joined the Reds in the summer season of 2007 as a box-to-box midfielder. He had just won the Bola de Ouro (Golden Ball) in his final season at Gremio, an annual award offered to the best player in the Brazilian league, so expectations have been understandably high on the Kop when Rafa Benitez signed him for £6 million. Yet Liverpool have in no way ever seen that player who excelled in Brazil and never ever ever will provided his full transformation simply because then.
It’s correctly-documented how he struggled in his early years at Anfield and it’s equally tough to believe that the player we see now was when an attacking midfielder, signed to play a related part to Steven Gerrard. Following a tough couple of seasons in which he was often subjected to vocal criticism from the stands, Lucas sooner or later got to grips with the defensive midfield position in which Rafa Benitez preferred to deploy him.
In spite of a extended and difficult road, Lucas ultimately arrived as a quite very first group player and, somewhat remarkably, a fan favourite. The strength of character he showed to stick with it when many would have admitted defeat and looked to move on was commendable — 1 of the causes he’s grow to be such a well-identified figure. Even those who nonetheless are not fully convinced about his higher high quality can’t aid but like and admire him as a man. He’s one certain of the exceptional guys, and that is why it genuinely is nice seeing him as quickly as once more proving his doubters incorrect.
One particular certain of the most surprising variables about his performances below Klopp has been how normally he’s managed to get forward. He’s been close to acquiring on the scoresheet in a number of games lately and clearly is not just tasked with sitting in front of his two centre-backs and blocking off space. You’ll often see him pressing very larger up the field, a player who has really taken to Klopp’s brand of football. Lucas Leiva appears comfy and confident in his function and his reassuring presence permits other people to perform significantly far better. The defence advantage from the shielding he offers, though his fellow midfield players know they can go hunting the ball in the knowledge that the Brazilian will be covering the space they vacate.
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Of course he does have his weaknesses, the most clear of which appears to be conceding a lot of cost-totally free-kicks, frequently in hazardous places. Certainly, his 28 fouls this season rank second most in the Premier League behind Watford’s Etienne Capoue, even though when you tackle as a lot as Lucas does, occasional fouls are an inevitable consequence of that. The Brazilian led the Premier League with 3.9 tackles per game final season and he’s stepped it up additional this year — 5.5 tackles per game this year are the most across Europe’s massive 5 leagues.
This latter point does supply some point of view to the accusation that he concedes also a lot of fouls. If you are placing in far far more tackles than anyone else in Europe, then undoubtedly committing the odd foul here goes with the territory. Lucas is the only senior midfielder Liverpool have who is capable of placing his foot in and carrying out the “dirty function,” some issue Klopp clearly appreciates even if Rodgers in no way really did.
In the lengthy term, Liverpool will most likely appear to upgrade on Lucas — as excellent a player as he is, there will be a lot greater and younger options out there. It could not happen in the subsequent couple of transfer windows, although, as the Reds have a lot far more pressing specifications than replacing the born when again Brazilian.
Dave Usher is the founder/editor of the typical LFC fanzine and net internet site The Liverpool Way. You can comply with him on Twitter @theliverpoolway.