Liverpool FC have had some impressive performances of late and Lucas Leiva has been a constant figure in the side. Manager Jürgen Klopp trusts Lucas and is aware of his strengths. An example of the trust showed in him is keeping him on the pitch despite numerous early yellow cards in games. Lucas has the experience and intelligence to know how manage games. His positional play, understanding and defensive anticipation is fundamental to his game. His performances recently have been excellent and he is showing leadership qualities within the team. I aim to highlight key aspects of his play and explore the factors behind his brilliant form.
Lucas has been viewed throughout his career as a defensive minded central midfielder. This is despite the fact that he used to play in offensive positions while in Brazil and confessed that he enjoyed being involved in attacking systems. His role for his former team, Gremio, involved doing a job at both ends of the pitch. He was a box to box midfielder who would make late bursts into attack, while covering defensively moments later. Over time and under different coaching set ups, he has evolved into a more disciplined defensive midfielder. This may still be the case under Jürgen Klopp, however, I have noticed an increased range of passing being infiltrated into his game.
I believe Lucas Leiva is a key fit for Jürgen Klopp and a vitally important player to the current Liverpool squad. He is in his ninth season now and provides valuable experience and leadership qualities. He is one of the most experienced players in the squad and has a deep understanding to the culture of the club. I believe he can play a pivotal role in the development of the younger talents at the club. He is a role model, professional who has worked hard to be where he currently is. In terms of his ability on the pitch, he is a defensive presence and a solid core to the midfield. Lucas has made 41 tackles in 11 Premier League appearances this season, the second highest in the Premier League, second only to Erik Pieters of Stoke City (90min, 2015). This highlights his defensive ability and importance to the side. Some could argue that it shows a lack of positional play if you are forced to make tackles but I think in Klopp’s high pressing tactics, early tackles desirable in central areas.
He is not afraid to ‘get stuck in’ and does usually pick up a yellow card. I like the fact that he willing to take a yellow card for the team in certain situations. For example I believe he may have prevented Sergio Aguero’s recent strike against us if he was not already on a yellow card. According to Squawka Football (2015) he has committed the most fouls in the Premier League this season, illustratrating his combative style.
I was disappointed when Lucas looked to be on the fringes of the Liverpool squad and was even likely to leave under Brendan Rodgers. He has a lot to offer any side in the Premier League and an intelligent system can get the best out of him. Since he came into the team, because of the injury to Jordan Henderson, he has developed into a core member of the starting line up.
I believe the defensive side of his game has been there for most of his career and the statistics mentioned above have been replicated by him in previous seasons. It’s is the attacking play and increased invention to his armoury that I have noticed in recent weeks. I believe Jürgen Klopp is trying maximise his full potential as an overall midfielder and wants to encourage concise positive passing and creation. Ball retention is important in Klopp’s system and Lucas plays a critical role as a pivot in the midfield. His abilities to read the game, create chances, retain the ball and control the tempo of the match have all been developed under Jurgen Klopp. I have no doubt that he is learning a new dimension of football in this regime.
Written by @brwade123