Why Lucas Moura Can Be the Next George Best at Manchester United
Whenever a young prospect makes serious waves in world football, it has become customary to compare that youth to stars of the past.
The case is even more apt when these rising sensations move clubs, igniting a flare of comparisons amongst supporters and pundits alike regarding who their new signing will be most likened to from that club’s history.
That much is a secret to nobody.
What remains up for discussion however, is whether or not the Brazilian will complete his move as speculation continues to play out a “will he, won’t he” transfer saga, according to Radio Estadao ESPN (h/t Daily Mail).
The player's agent, Wagner Ribeiro, suggests the current situation is that São Paulo have a figure in their mind regarding their talisman, a figure that the Red Devils are yet to meet when he spoke to UoL.com.br (h/t Guardian).
Speaking to ESPN Brasil (h/t SambaFoot.com) after Brazil’s 3-1 win over Belarus at the London 2012 Olympics, Lucas remained adamant that his focus is entirely on the Summer Games but opens up to the possibility of an Old Trafford switch.
If the youngster does complete a move to the English giants, there’s only one person that springs to mind whom Lucas can be compared to, and that’s George Best.
Now, many a supporter will reel in terror at a 19-year-old from South America being put in the same category as the United legend that is Best, but the Northern Irishman is easily the most comparable icon for Lucas.
To kick things off, let’s start with the most obvious feature that a player can be whittled down to: appearance.
Lucas may not have those shaggy ‘60s locks that Best sported throughout his Old Trafford tenure, but the two are almost identical in stature.
Best was a mere inch taller than the 5’8” Lucas Moura.
It’s hard to think that smaller players were once condemned in the British Isles, a part of the world that once saw a lack of presence as a sign of weakness.
Growing up in Northern Ireland, Best’s local club, Glentoran, actually rejected the future English Hall of Famer originally, due to the fact that he was too small.
If Best didn’t put in the necessary work to prove that slighter players can succeed on the elite stage, then today’s legends, such as Lionel Messi, certainly have.
South America has always been more accommodating to players of a smaller size and Lucas was handed his first senior chances with São Paulo as a 16-year-old.
Linked directly to the duo’s height is their style of play.
While Lucas hasn’t featured as prominently at London 2012 as some would have expected, those watching the 19-year-old in the Brasileiro Serie A will know that the attacker’s close control is one of his best features, just as it was for Best.
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It almost became cliché for commentators to state that the ball “seemed glued to Best’s feet at times” during his career.
The Northern Irishman’s superb touch allowed him to take on the opposition at a higher pace than others while maintaining possession of the ball.
Any Lucas highlight reel will feature the Brazilian sprinting similarly at his opponent at an extremely fast rate.
While it may be more common for a Brazil international to be known for his turn of pace, Best turned the stereotype on its head and would frequently move past defenders with ease.
The duo are both able to beat their opposition in terms of speed whether they are on the ball or off of it, an important trait given their roles in football, bringing us to our next point.
In a career that boasted the experience of playing at 20 clubs, it was only inevitable that George Best reverted to a more subdued position on the pitch, featuring from further back in his latter days.
However, Best will always be remembered at Old Trafford for his versatility in attack and although he never had the chance to play under Sir Alex Ferguson, he’s undoubtedly a player that the Scotsman would have loved to manage for that reason.
Best had all the attributes that adhere to a great playmaker but his physical superiority also made it possible for the legend to play out of a more obvious attacking role.
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With his vision and passing range, the United great could operate from attacking midfield, helping to initiate forward surges when needed.
But Best’s biggest contributions arguably came from the wings, an area where he could really fly and use fantastic crossing quality to deliver that vital ball.
Lucas plays in a similar fashion, and, depending on the occasion, has been known to play out of a central role, migrating to the wings at times.
The teenager is fast. Really fast.
As a result of his physical gifts, and the arrival of Shinji Kagawa at Old Trafford, Lucas might find himself out wide at Old Trafford if he were to complete a transfer, but the player is more than capable of coming into the middle if needs be.
By all accounts, it isn’t completely justified in likening one player to another, no matter how great the former might be.
After all, when your club signs a new star, you want that star to be “the first” and not “the next,” heralding a new legend and not drudging up a past titan.
Regardless, if Lucas can contribute the same amount of impact that George Best did during his days as a Red Devil, then those around the club can be pleased, and the youngster certainly has the tools to do so.
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