Lucas Leiva: Why the cult hero is Liverpool’s most important Brazilian

When someone mentions the Brazilian talent on show at Anfield, thoughts immediately turn to Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino.

Unstoppable at their best, the creative duo have largely mesmerised this season, with Jurgen Klopp’s eye-catching Liverpool side far from the same team without them.

Coutinho provides the skill to change any game, having scored 11 goals and registered seven assists in 1000 less minutes than Firmino this campaign.

The latter, though, has netted 12 crucial goals at key moments in the calendar and produced the same number of assists. Both are indispensable to Klopp.

But mentioning just two of Liverpool’s Brazilians would be doing a huge disservice to their longest-serving South American – or current player of any nationality for that matter.

Indeed, he may not be the most popular of Liverpool stars but Lucas Leiva has continued to show his worth this season.


Beneficial and hard-working

The 30-year-old has his critics. Many feel the defensive midfielder simply doesn’t offer enough to be more than a rarely used squad player.

He tackles – but he’s no Javier Mascherano. He plays at centre-back – but he’s nowhere near a Joel Matip or a Dejan Lovren.

To dismiss the Brazilian out of hand, however, would be to damage Liverpool as a unit. Let’s face it, Lucas has become a cult hero since his move from Gremio and has given his all unequivocally whenever called upon.

His experience benefits a rather youthful squad and his commitment to Liverpool is unquestionable.

“We have worked a lot on movement in training,” Lucas said recently, as quoted by This Is Anfield. “I’m trying to improve and add [assists] to my game and hopefully next will come goals.

“But I know what the manager wants from me and he wants me to improve on assists, and I think I’ve been doing well on assists, so that’s quite good.”

Three assists this term is no mean feat for a defence-minded player. And it’s no wonder social media went crazy on Monday night over the fact Paul Pogba has only managed the same amount.

Online praise was also rightly showered on Emre Can for his sensational finish at Watford yet, without Lucas’s pass, it would never have happened. Now more than ever, his particular set of skills is greatly needed.


Better for Liverpool to maintain his services

So what of life beyond the current campaign for the Brazilian, then, considering growing talk of Lucas being allowed to leave the Reds?

According to talkSPORT, the Liverpool man has at the very least spoken to Galatasaray.

Simply put, Lucas – an important and versatile asset – should be kept at Anfield this summer at all reasonable costs. When trying to improve a squad, reducing the amount of options available is counterproductive.

If the choice is Klopp’s, meanwhile, he’ll likely want to retain the midfielder as long as he can. With European football added to the menu next season, such a capable and knowledgeable body in midfield would tick a lot of boxes.

Of course, if the 30-year-old himself wants to leave for more game time, the Kop can bid him a fond goodbye and wish him all the best. He deserves success, wherever he should achieve it.


The club’s most dedicated Brazilian

Hopefully, though, that’s something supporters won’t have to worry about.

Coutinho and Firmino can dazzle, entertain and win games single-handedly – but look no further than Lucas for Liverpool’s most dedicated Brazilian.

A player who still has so much to offer, long may his stay on Merseyside continue. It just wouldn’t be the same without him.


Written by Timothy Poole

Follow Timothy on Twitter @TimPooleSport

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