Liverpool Transfer News: Selling Lucas Leiva Would Be Savvy Move by Reds

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistAugust 27, 2014

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 26: Lucas of Liverpool is closed down by Yaya Toure of Manchester City during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Liverpool at Etihad Stadium on December 26, 2013 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Liverpool could be preparing to sell Brazilian holding midfielder Lucas Leiva in what would be a very savvy step toward trimming a squad suddenly bloated by a host of new arrivals.

Daily Mirror writer Liam Prenderville has reported that ex-Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez is interested in signing Lucas:

Brazilian midfielder Lucas is set to complete a move to Napoli - after being left out of the squad at the Etihad last night.

Former boss Rafael Benitez is eager to take the 27-year-old to Italy and is willing to pay £1.5million to land him for the season.

That would then be followed by a further £8million to make it a permanent move next summer.

That would represent excellent business for current Anfield chief Brendan Rodgers. Reuniting with Benitez is also something Lucas is unlikely to resist.

Prenderville referenced a report from Daily Star writer Gary Jones suggesting Lucas was unhappy about being left out for the Reds' recent 3-1 defeat to Manchester City.

That apparently makes a move to Italy something the 27-year-old will welcome. That's good news for Bentiez. Much like Chelsea gaffer Jose Mourinho, ironically one of the Spaniard's great rivals, Benitez has rarely seen a defensive midfielder he didn't want to sign.

Former Liverpool boss Benitez would welcome Lucas in Naples.
Former Liverpool boss Benitez would welcome Lucas in Naples.Denis Doyle/Getty Images

But Rodgers should be the happiest manager if this deal goes through. He needs to begin the process of reducing numbers in midfield, after signing a trio of new players at the position this summer.

Emre Can, Adam Lallana and Lazar Markovic have joined a group already brimming with options. Steven Gerrard, Jordan Henderson, Joe Allen and Philippe Coutinho all currently vie for places in the middle.

It's a bit of a head-scratcher wondering just how Rodgers intends to fit everybody in. That's still a problem for the manager, even with Liverpool back in the UEFA Champions League and playing in the era of squad rotation.

Lallana and Markovic may make his task easier, since both can be deployed on the flanks. However, they'd have to force Raheem Sterling and possibly Daniel Sturridge or Mario Balotelli out of the way first, depending on how Rodgers sets his team up.

But centrally, things are even more congested. As skipper, Gerrard's place is a given. He's been given a new lease of life since dropping back into a more withdrawn role last season.

Ex-Anfield regular Dietmar Hamann praised Gerrard's switch to a deeper position last season, per

But his adaptation, and in particular the discipline he shown, has been so impressive. In that role you have to play the same way whether you're 2-0 up or 2-0 down, and he's done just that.

The way he has changed his game this season has been majorly impressive, and he's again been a vital part of the team. Not only does he spot danger very early, but he also wins the ball back, and we all know how good his passing ability is.

Gerrard's form in front of the defence is one reason why Liverpool don't need Lucas any more. The Brazilian is more in the mold of a classic destroyer or spoiler in the middle.

Yet this Liverpool team thrives based on its ability to counter at tremendous pace. That relies on quick passes from deep to release fast runners, and that requires Gerrard.

What Rodgers really needs is energy around his ageing quarterback. Specifically, he needs players who will do Gerrard's running for him.

That's the main reason why Henderson appeared so often last season. It's also why Rodgers signed Can from Bundesliga side Bayer 04 Leverkusen.

Emre Can will offer more to the Reds' midfield.
Emre Can will offer more to the Reds' midfield.Clint Hughes/Getty Images

Can is more energetic than Lucas and certainly more rugged than Henderson. He could be the ideal minder Gerrard has needed.

It's likely clear to Lucas that whatever combination Rodgers chooses this season, it probably won't include him. By moving on he can revitalise his career under a manager who knows how to get the best from him.

An exit for Lucas will also make Rodgers' job easier. It's the classic win-win in the transfer market.