A few weeks ago, I received a lot of criticism from Liverpool fans over my comments about Lucas Leiva. The abuse was because I had not jumped on the “we love you Lucas” bandwagon after he signed for Italian giants SS Lazio.
Lucas's Lazio initiation 🎶
— The Anfield Wrap (@TheAnfieldWrap) August 3, 2017
When I sat down to write this article, I promised myself I would try and write it in a positive way and concentrate on all the good Lucas had done at Liverpool and not focus on the negative aspects of his time on the pitch.
Lucas has being a great servant for Liverpool and no one associated with Liverpool Football Club can deny this fact.
He has played under some fantastic managers and some questionable ones during his ten years at Liverpool.
Managers over the past few seasons have had him play in positions that would not be deemed his natural position, but he has always given one hundred and ten percent on the pitch.
Normally, I try and use stats and comparisons to make my argument valid, but I decided very early on that this would not be one of those types of articles.
While I have not jumped on the Lucas bandwagon, my main gripe with those who have is this; those who were saying thanks for the memories were the same ones who were bemoaning his existence while he was playing for the club.
While his career at Liverpool could be deemed memorable, it cannot be called prolific. In his 344 appearances for Liverpool, Lucas won just one major honour (the league cup in the 2011/2012 season) and he scored seven goals.
While a return of 7 goals over 10 years would be deemed a decent return for a player who has been utilised as a defensive midfielder and centre-back over the three to four seasons, we must remember that Lucas, at his time in Brazil, was an attacking midfielder and that is the position Rafa Benitez had earmarked for him when signed for Liverpool.
Maybe I am being a little over critical of Lucas but I just can’t overlook the stupid errors and free-kicks he has given away that have resulted in goals scored against Liverpool over the past ten years. The pass to Jamie Vardy last season against Leicester springs to mind.
While he is by no means the worst player to have played in the Liverpool midfield or defence over his ten years at the club, the hypocrisy of some fans grates me severely.
It seems we are no longer allowed express our opinions on players especially after they leave the club. It is somehow deemed worse than speaking ill of the dead.
From what I have read about Lucas since he left Liverpool, he seems like a decent and a very likeable guy. He is a player it appears that has done a lot better off the pitch for Liverpool than he has on the pitch. Including welcoming new players to the club and helping them settle in, especially those who did not speak English.
My story. ‘Lucas: 10 Years a Red’. Coming soon to LFCTV. pic.twitter.com/DCJ2CqT693
— Lucas Leiva (@LucasLeiva87) May 11, 2017
He was highly respected at Liverpool and will be missed by the players for his actions off the pitch, but I do not think Liverpool will miss having Lucas on the pitch.
Liverpool, since Jurgen Klopp took over at the club, have made great strides in going forward and while over the last few years Lucas has shown that he can be very versatile, I think he knew his time at the club was coming to an end when he was rarely getting game time even when players were out injured or suspended.
The team has moved forward in a direction that just does not seem to suit Lucas. The team now attacks and defends as a unit and Lucas simply couldn’t keep up with the speed of the attacks. Deep down, I think he knew the new way Liverpool played did not suit him. This was one of the main reasons why he decided this summer was the best time for him to cut his ties with the Reds.
I’m not saying Lucas is a bad player. It’s not possible to stay at a club like Liverpool for ten years being a bad player, but his best performances for Liverpool were nowhere good enough for a Liverpool team that should be challenging for major honours year on year.
I can see him doing well in Serie A at Lazio. The pace in Serie A is nowhere as fast as in the Premier League, and because of this Lucas should be able to cut out some of the reckless tackles that have plagued his Liverpool career.
With Lucas gone from the club, it paves the way for the younger players to take his place. Players like Ovie Ejaria, Joe Gomez, Ryan Kent, Marko Grujic and Ben Woodburn will now benefit from having that extra space on the bench.
Lucas has been a great servant for Liverpool, but I think the team will be a better team without him in it and, as harsh as this sounds, fans know I am right. While they may not agree with me now, over time I think they will see my opinion on Lucas was valid and some of the abuse I received was unwarranted.