Liverpool FC: Why Liverpool Should Sell Lucas Leiva This Transfer Window
Holding midfielder Lucas Leiva is admired by many Liverpool faithful as a result of the sheer drive and determination the 26-year-old Brazilian showed to initially force himself into the Liverpool starting 11. The once booed, ridiculed and want-away midfielder found himself glorified by the Kop.
Nowadays, the story isn't quite so glamorous. An injury set back last season ruptured progress, and since his return, Lucas hasn't looked like the same improving force he once did.
For some, myself included, Lucas was never really Liverpool quality, merely a sub-standard replacement for one Javier Mascherano. His recent dip in form has confirmed that the improvements he made last season brought him to the maximum of his potential, and therefore, this season must be his last.
Lucas Leiva is one of the clumsiest players in the Premier League. Too often he sends players to the turf because his tackling ability is not up to scratch. Lucas has committed the second highest number of fouls in the Premier League for a defensive midfielder, averaging two fouls per game. He is also successfully dribbled around 1.5 times per game on average.
Fans criticise Joe Allen for his lack in form, but defensively, he has a higher success rate in tackling than Lucas, being dribbled 1.1 times per game, and fouling once per game.
His clumsiness has become a great threat to the Liverpool defence. The more fouls given away, the more set pieces need defending.
Statistically, only Jermaine Jenas and Mikel Arteta have worse defensive records.
Lack of Creativity
Offensively, Lucas is uninspiring to say the least.
In his whole Liverpool career he has scored two goals. This season, in 20 appearances (three from the bench), he has not scored one goal, and has provided only one assist.
You might then argue that it's not all about assists and goals, especially for a defensive midfielder. So, I had a look at his key pass stat. Lucas averages 0.5 key passes per game, less than Jordan Henderson (1), Joe Allen (0.8) and Mikel Arteta, who is deployed in a very similar role (0.8).
Again, proof that Lucas is lacklustre when it comes to attacking, too.
When it comes to general pass completion, Lucas is once again below the mark. Mikel Arteta boasts a 93 percent pass completion rate, Joe Allen comes in at 90 percent, whilst Lucas is left behind with 87 percent of his passes finding the mark.
Long balls can indicate a direct, offensive state of play, and Lucas' stats here aren't too good, either. Lucas averages 2.2 long balls per game, again less than Allen (3.9) and Arteta (5.4). When it comes to through-balls, Lucas has not even been given a stat.
Overall, Lucas is very poor offensively, completing less passes, long balls, key passes and scoring and assisting less than Arteta and Joe Allen.
And people want Joe Allen to be sold. He's younger, has had less time to adjust and therefore, quite simply, is better.
Funds to Buy a Better Replacement
If Lucas were to be sold this summer, I would expect him to go for between £11-15 million. That sort of money could be used to invest in another, better defensive midfielder. The one stand-out candidate is Xabi Alonso, who has been linked to the reds for a reported £12 million.
Personally, I don't see this deal happening, as much as I would like it to. Nevertheless, a Lucas Leiva sale would provide Rodgers with some extra ammunition to add to a squad that looks in dire need of defensive re-enforcements.
There's Simply No Excuse Not to Anymore
Lucas Leiva came to England as an exciting attacking midfielder. A lack of pace, vision and creativity (as proven by the stats in slide two) prove that he is definitely not going to fill that billing. The recreation of Lucas into a defensive midfielder looked to be a failure at first, but then it appeared to be producing some results.
However, I believe those results were merely relative compared to the frankly appalling outings he first produced. He was never good enough.
His injury last season disrupted the progress he was making, and on his return, his poor outings were put down to a lack of match fitness. Now though, that can't be used as an excuse.
In six of his last seven games, he has completed 90 minutes. He is obviously fit.
He is as sharp as he will ever be, so unfortunately, his poor form has no excuse.
My conclusion is quite simple: Lucas Leiva must be sold for the good of the Liverpool team.
Many fans have been calling for the head of Allen, but a look into the general performance levels would indicate that it is Lucas that should be one of the first out the door this season, not the young Welshman.
In light of his recent new contract, perhaps a sale isn't likely. But if it were up to me, he'd be out of Melwood pretty fast.
Feel free to comment, thank you very much for reading.