Reports from Merseyside have suggested that Liverpool will allow Lucas Leiva to leave the club before the close of the current transfer window should the player wish to move on.
The club are not trying to force the player to move or actively marketing him, but Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has made it clear first team opportunities may be limited this season.
The Reliable Brazilian
Since arriving at Liverpool from Gremio in 2007, Lucas Leiva has often been a divisive figure. At first, many observers, including Liverpool fans, failed to see exactly what it was that Red’s former boss Rafa Benitez saw in the young Brazilian. He lacked the flair and trickery often associated with his compatriots and he did not have the physical presence of a typical midfield destroyer.
What Lucas provided was discipline, reliability, protection, aerial ability, precision and distribution; the types of qualities that may not excite football fans but are vitally important to a technical Coach such as Benitez. As a result, it took a while for many fans and pundits to warm to the player.
But one thing slowly became apparent – Liverpool always looked like a better team when Lucas was fully fit and playing.
End of an Era?
Eight years and 275 appearances later, the Anfield career of the quiet and hard-working holding player appears to be coming to an end. He was left out of the 18-man squad that featured in the opening game at Stoke on Saturday and appears to have fallen down the midfield pecking order under coach Brendan Rodgers.
As well as Lucas, the Northern Irish Coach currently has James Milner, Jordan Henderson, Emre Can and Joe Allen who can all do a job in the deeper midfield areas and Jordan Rossiter waiting in the wings. With this group of players, Rodgers might feel that he has enough versatility and flexibility to apply his preferred formations, or he may even be considering further recruitments in this area.
If Lucas decides to stay, he will have to battle for a place in the team or accept playing in cup games or matches where a tactical switch may be required.
There are also question marks surrounding the fitness of a player who suffered a cruciate ligament rupture late in 2011 and has missed 391 days through injury since.
Last season, he was unavailable for 14 games due to a groin injury picked up in February; and in total, he has missed 79 games in the last four years.
If Lucas does decide that his future lies elsewhere, his current employers will be looking for a figure in excess of €11m for his services. He still has two years left on his current contract, so a move at this time may work out best for all involved parties. However, there is also a chance that Liverpool could let the player go out on loan with an option to purchase.
In previous transfer windows, the Brazilian international has been linked with Italian club Inter and it is believed that the Serie A side would once again be the front-runners for his signature.
However, they may face competition from London club West Ham who have also reportedly shown interest.
Written by Neil Morris
Follow Neil on Twitter @nmorris01
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