Lucas Leiva: Good Enough for Liverpool?

A forlorn Lucas looks on against Chelsea

If you believe Liverpool manager Raphael Benitez there are few midfielders more suited for the Premier League than Lucas Leiva. After all, Benitez has spent much of his 2009-2010 campaign lobbying on behalf of the twenty-two year old Brazilian. Benitez praises Levia’s work rate and dedication to the team, all the while ignoring his glaring deficiencies. Liverpool supporters from Merseyside to Mumbai have been lamenting Leiva’s inclusion in Benitez’s first team since the departure of Xavi Alonso. Replacing Alonso was always going to be a challenge, but after Sunday’s dismal performance against Chelsea it is concretely clear that Leiva is never going to be the man for that task.

This is a player that is simply not good enough for the daily rigors of the English Premier League. Yes, at times he looks like a fluid player that is capable of stringing together a few passes. However, against the likes of Chelsea, Aston Villa, and Spurs he has looked entirely out of his depth this season. The Chelsea match was particularly striking. Leiva appeared tactically naive and physically inferior as Chelsea’s midfield bossed the game and easily pushed the Brazilian off the ball. Benitez has exhausted the English media by plugging Leiva’s ability to give his all, but after Sunday’s 2-0 defeat it is obvious the midfielder brings little more than useless energy to the side.

Moreover, this is not a new problem for Liverpool. Benitez has been attempting to integrate Leiva into the first team for the better part of two years. So I put the question to you, the readers of EPL Talk: is Lucas Leiva good enough for Liverpool Football Club? Is his style of play strong enough for the English Premier League? If nothing else English football is associated with pace and physicality, two qualities that Leiva clearly lacks. At times the midfielder forlornly wanders the middle of the park, giving balls away while simultaneously disrupting Liverpool’s offensive output.

This behavior has deeply effected Steven Gerrard’s play in 2009. Against Chelsea the Liverpool skipper was forced to drop deeper in an effort to link midfield with attack, disrupting his offensive rhythm with Fernando Torres. Gerrard is renowned for his forward runs and box-to-box capacity, but on Sunday fans saw little of this as Chelsea ran riot in the second half.

Of course Liverpool’s misfortunes are not the sole responsibility of one player. Jamie Carragher has looked his age thus far and Dirk Kuyt has been incredibly ineffective on the right during this young season. Liverpool’s internal struggles are also well documented, as owners George Gillette and Tom Hicks continue to drag the club’s reputation through the mud.

Nevertheless, Leiva’s lack of creativity in midfield is the most pressing matter for the Reds on the pitch. Summer signing Alberto Aquilani is returning to health and is predicted to make his first start for Liverpool in the Carling Cup at the end of October. Even if Aquilani usurps Leiva’s place in Benitez’s midfield, Liverpool will still need to call on the Brazilian down the stretch. Most pundits cite Liverpool’s lack of depth as the primary reason that the Merseysiders will not end their twenty-year title drought in 2010. The fixture congestion created by playing in four competitions will certainly test this theory, and Lucas Leiva does little to ease these concerns.

46 thoughts on “Lucas Leiva: Good Enough for Liverpool?”

  1. He’s growing on me. I was impressed with his performance against Chelsea, and think he’s improved considerably since earlier this season. The jury is still out, but I think he deserves more chances for the time being.

    The Gaffer

    1. you thought lucas played well at chelsea?
      ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………sorry, i just fell off my chair laughing ……

  2. I couldn’t disagree with what you said about Lucas in the Chelsea game. I though he looked quite good. Gerrard did look terrible against Chelsea but that wasn’t Lucas fault. I agree with Gaffer on this. I’m not sure if he is good enough yet. I’ll go so far as to say he probably is not. But don’t use the Chelsea game as an example.

  3. Better than Mascherano of late. Not Xabi by any means. I reserve judgment until I get a look at the midfield w/Aquilani in it.

  4. Honestly how long can Liverpool players and fans wait to see if Lucas is good enough?He might have the talent one day… but today is definitely not that day, and his “talent” has definitely not been apparent this season.

  5. Lucas is a squad player. I griped about him last season at times, but I knew that as long as Mascherano and Xabi were fit, Lucas would mostly be coming off the bench.

    LFC supporters are eager to see Aquilani come in and live up to his price tag. If that happens I have no doubt Lucas will start a lot less in the league.

    That being said, as Alex addresses in his article: Benitez sees something special in Lucas.

    Lucas did play well against Chelsea just as he played well when we needed him to come up big against United last season. But he’ll have to play like that for several weeks in a row before I’m convinced he’s up to the task.

    I wanted to give him a chance this season to prove himself. To rise to the challenge of filling in for Xabi Alonso. For me he’s come up too far short. We need more backbone and better distribution coming out of midfield. Lucas has yet to provide both those things consistently.

  6. The fact that I don’t notice Lucas as much as before is probably a mixed bag: Is he quietly doing his job in the centre of the pitch, or is he making less of the more noticeable rash tackles, poor passing, losing possession than he was a year or two ago? The jury is still out but for a Brazilian international, he just doesn’t impose himself on a match, link up, or score as many goals as he should. I can’t wait for Aquilani to fill that role, I just fear that his body may not last the bruising week in week out in England.

  7. The fact is even if Lucas was sold for £5 million when the transfer window opened, Rafa would only have £5 million to replace him. With no extra cash from the Yanks it is pointless selling average players if you only have the money to buy more average players.
    If Aquilani was fit in August then Lucas probably wouldn’t have started any games this season, however if Aquilani was fit we wouldn’t have got him for £20 million, which probably means we would not have been able to afford him at all.

    1. Good point Mike. With Liverpool having one of the larger squads in the league, it makes you wonder how much dosh the club could raise by selling several of these players who aren’t up to the standards that we expect to see at Liverpool FC — and then use the money to purchase some better talent.

      Makes you wonder why Liverpool can’t develop a scouting system as good as Wigan Athletic.

      The Gaffer

      1. Given what he’s done at Wigan and (so far) Sunderland, maybe the Yanks should go get Steve Bruce. Could a former Man. U. guy coach there?

        I sure wish they had Cattermole right now, and not just b/c he’s English.

  8. I would defiantly have to agree with the author on this one. Time and again Lucas has shown that he lacks the confidence to play on the same pitch as his star teammates. The little improvement that Lucas has shown over the last two years is not enough to aid Liverpool to the title. He has proven that he is not capable of being a dependable link between midfield and attack- a link that has to always be present in order to gain 3 points.

  9. lucas is hopeless. i liked him initially and i have totally given up on him. he was bullied off the ball at chelsea and basically we lost possession and control of the midfield. dump him now and maybe we might just get one or two million quid back. maybe.

    and whilst we are doing that, dump the stupid moron of a manager as well.

  10. I dont agree with the comentary.Lucas is improving day by day and he want more games.Lucas work hard and im sure that he try to give the 100% or more.he is young and he can improve.KEEP IT UP LUCAS

  11. what can i say about lucas? i constantly try to give him the benefit of the doubt, but this only seems to make me even more disappointed when he makes mistakes. just when ive convinced myself he’s improving and is just about justifying his place in the team he plays like he did against spurs, villa or fiorentina. however, he is playing far better than he was this time last season and i still feel he can improve alot more. he wins his fair share of ball, his passing is good, his technique is good and he has been adding some clever forward runs to his play. but theres 2 things that still really annoy me about him. when he gets caught dwelling on the ball in midfield from being closed down, and when in the bigger games, he doesnt show for the ball! When he is being closed down im sure he has the ability to just turn away from his man and not hesitate and fall over himself (happened 3times against fiorentina and once agaisnt chelsea). And in terms of showing for the ball… this is about courage. in the tight games he has to come short and demand the ball from the defenders! against chelsea marcherano was doing it and lucas was generally being bypassed. Lucas is a better passer that marcherano without a doubt but he doesnt have the strength of character to take responsibility. If he does this, we might have a real player.

    for the record, anyone saying he’s shit this season obviously is judging him on 1 or 2 games and from watching match of the day. if you have watched the full games you ll see he’s been solid and had some good games except for those mentioned above. And as amazing as they are, I can think of quite a few games this season where gerrard and torres have been completely anonymous also.

    lucas IS getting better. whether he ll ever be a top player we cant say for now but we might as well back the guy while he’s playing!!!!

  12. Couldn’t agree more with the overall point of this article.

    I don’t believe Lucas is fit for Liverpool (I’m even leaning of the opinion that the EPL isn’t really his league).

    Lucas made a point to promise Red supporters (through the club’s web site) that he would “bulk up” to be able to handle the physicality of the EPL. I don’t see any sign of this.

    His passing is terrible. How many times have you seen him even attempt a long ball with pace to Gerrard or Torres?

    Over the years, I think everyone has come to understand that the holding midfield position is vital to most sides (especially those with single strikers and supporting midfield). You get someone solid – someone that can make important tackles and distribute with pace up the field – and you have a winning side. Creativity, while important, comes second to making solid tackles and passing the ball with pace and accuracy.

    And the references to other players not doing as well could have a direct correlation to that fact that position is not being fulfilled.

    We should have one of our best in that position – not a player still trying to prove himself. Maybe Aquilani will be that player. We’ll see…

    That said, Alonso wasn’t a world-class player until he proved himself with the Reds (I won’t take credit for this – someone else brought this point up on another post) and Benitez basically made that happen. We all know Benitez will do what he does and all we, as Reds, can do is complain when it doesn’t work (and pretend we knew all along when it does). :)

    1. Aquillani DMF dont think so mate, where have you been when benitez has been talking about him playing between gerrard and torres??

  13. I think Lucas will be fine in time. He just isn’t really to run the Liverpool midfield yet. Rafa knew this and that is why he went out an signed Aquilani.

  14. I feel so sorry for the lad, he didnt even play badly on sunday just an easy scape goat! He broke up more attacks than masch but people only mention that when masch does it and only point out when lucas does something wrong!!!

    he didnt play well against villa (who did?) but people will always mention that instead of his man of the match performance against stoke the week before. (Tony Pullis’s words not mine!)

    If you compare him to Anderson who cost united 3 times more (Anderson cost £17mil and lucas 5.5mil) i know who has got the better deal!!!!!!!!

  15. I would like to have Carra, Lucas, Riera, Dirk K to be dropped + Rafa..
    Cara – getting old
    Lucas – not good enough
    Riera – not consistent
    Dirk K – not right wing
    Rafa – still dreaming

  16. i dont see the issue with Kuyt. He’s a staple of the Holland attack, works harder than just about anyone on the pitch, and would definitely not be someone I’d want to get rid of from any team. I suppose his 3 goals and 3 assists in 8 games aren’t good enough when he’s maybe the 3rd or 4th best option and playing out of position, but a simple change or two from Rafa or any replacement coach would put him in a much better position to be even more effective.

    With Carragher aging in dog years, the backline so unsure of themselves in a zonal marking system, and Gerrard having to do too much of the little things to be his effective self, I would think the last thing necessary from this team is to get rid of Dirk Kuyt.

  17. Ok, keep Dirk Kuyt as second striker; more Steven G to Lucas’ place.
    Bring Agger in of Carra place
    Benayoun to replace Rierra;
    I think Babel is more effective at right wing (then left)
    My team is;
    Johnson, Agger, Skrtel, Insua
    Mascherano, Steven G (for now)
    Babel, Kuyt, Benayoun
    Manager : Get someone better

  18. I think Lukas is wonderful youth, albeit he is to learn more partcularly while defending. The situationis coinsidence. He he is very good in atacking, the defence is not independently his problem, but the weekness of central defence.

  19. 2-3 years from now maybe. Let’s give the boy some time, he is only 21. But as of now, he’s simply not good enough. With him starting the rest of the year, Liverpool are lucky to finish top 4. Once fit, Aquilani will command most of the playing time in Xabi’s old spot. For now, Benitez should start Yossi, Riera, and Kuyt in support of Torres. Gerrard and Masch in a more central role.

    And of course Rafa is backing Leiva. It’s his only option. He’s got to try and instill confidence into him.

  20. 2-3 years, we probably need to change the whole team because of aging. Then another “Lucas” is in the making… another 3 years. Non-stop.. Remember when Rafa was on board initially, we have been patiently waiting for years; guess what..? Another 3 years…….. Look at Arsenal, a lot of young and promising player under the God Wenger. What is wrong to the academy ????

  21. Stev, my thoughts exactly.

    Carragher – in on sentiment now
    New greek lad – the new andy gray, only wants to head a ball.
    riera – complete heap of dung, cant attack a defence with a ball, cant cross, cant score. took riise’s place as my most hated player at the club.
    Poo-cas Leiva – one of the worst players ever to wear the jersey.
    Babel – career destroyed by the fat spanish waiter.
    mascha – is his heart in spain???
    kuyt – what liverpool fan wouldnt run up an down a pitch all day like an idiot with no productivity. work rate excellent, rest of his game garbage
    ngog – rubber foot.
    spearing – career in tatters at 20 because of benitez.

    benitez -completely deluded, had his time, had the money, far too negative. tactically outwits himself rather than the opposition and now were stuck with the fat oaf who will guide us to 4th place, many of you shit house supporters are happy about. if you took the rose tinted glasses off you’d see how shit a club houllier and this thing have turned us into. time for a new setup and a new 5 year plan as that’s the only thing this club is good for now.

    fuck off you fat waiter.

  22. I laugh when people talk about Lucas needing more time. He has played nearly 80 matches for the club already. How much more evidence does Rafa need that he is not good enough for either Liverpool or the Premier League? He is not a good passer, is easily knocked off the ball, and if I remember correctly has scored only one or two goals in those nearly 80 games.

    Enough already. I’d rather see Plessis.

  23. Lucas: Technically inept and poor decision making both defensively and in attack. He has only improved slightly but still lacks the necessary talent.

    Depth: Liverpool have no depth. None. It is painful.

    Carragher: His problem is he does not, seems unwillingly to, trust any of his back-line mates. The first goal against Chelsea was yet another example of Carra with his eye on Skrtel and not marking. It’s become epidemic.

  24. Indeed, Mike, Matt;
    5 years plan is required.
    Get someone with vision and not “star”-burn manager!!!
    Get and traini a couple of Torress, Steve talents
    Sell all Mike’s mentioned players.
    We don’t mind another 5 years but positive result should be improved year by year! Not excuses likes BPL is getting tougher by year! If other can improves, if Arsenal can improve by not spending a lot, why not us?
    Save the $ to build stadium…
    Lastly, Poor Americans … get lost!!!!

  25. Lucas is struggling to play English style football. That’s very usual when Brazilians go straight to top leagues. He had a great season in Brazil before being sold to the reds, and should spend a year in Portugal, Holland or Belgium and only THEN passed on to the reds. I would give him more time because of this.

    Essien is a beast and that’s what trully nullified Gerrard. Carragher, on the other hand, is slow and old: a player Liverpool wouldn’t miss AT ALL if gone.

  26. Lucas overall is a technically very poor player – gives the ball away – Physically not strong – Poor decision making – Poor awareness or as Rafa would very poor game intelligence – gives oppostion midfielders too much time & space then lunges in…Rafa needs to drop Gerrard deeper until Aquillani gets fit…..Lucas need to joins the Nunez’s & Josemi’s and be dropped & move on….
    Masch is having a poor start but its highlighted as Lucas is his midfield partner – even last season he started poorly but Alonso was running the team which too some of the heat off Masch…..although i do believe Rafa missed a trick with Momo – his workrate energy strength is something we could do with now…..

  27. Just to futher illistrate my point of Lucas poor technical ability & those who say he needs time – all u need to do is look at Arsenal – Fabregas & Denilson both of similar stature to Lucas but from day one you knew they were players with quaility & good technical ability – something Lucas has not got……

  28. There are so much gripes about the person Lucas that I think most, including Rafa, have missed a most important point. The central midfield position has more to it than technical ability although I must qualify that technical ability is a basic necessity, which unfortunately I too agree that Lucas has a long way to go.

    This is a role that must instill confidence in both forward and back lines which Lucas failed miserably. He does not give defenders a sense of security when the ball is behind because he is often no where near to receive, very unlike Alonso. When he gets the ball in midfield, he passes back more than creating something useful, very unlike Alonso. When he distributes to the wings, he gives the impression that his job is complete leaving the winger to struggle on their own, again very unlike Alonso. He does not give forwards confidence to commit upfront because he lacks vision for that incisive pass, again very like Alonso.

    Some might argue that comparing with Alonso is unfair, but aren’t these basic midfielder discipline? This might work in South American football because everyone has nippy footwork to dribble when they get the ball, English football requires close support from midfield to work. You need a natural leader in a position like this but Lucas seems too submissive. He need to demonstrate that he wants the ball more than anybody else, and he must believe that he is the best person to get the ball in any situation… just look at Gerard or Alonso in midfield and you will know what I mean. His youth is his advantage, because he has all the stamina in the world to be present everywhere, yet he chooses to walk (like South American football) most of the time. Such “lazy” attitudes in a game is like a disease and it influences other team members negatively too.

    Now that Alonso is gone and Aquilani is not ready, Gerard must fill this role rather than being wasted upfront wandering most of the time. Let Benayoun, Kuyt and Riera support Torres.

  29. Lucas has done nothing for the club.Why does this coach keep playing him game after game.Is the depth on the club that poor,or does Lucas have something on the coach we don”t know about.Please get Lucas off the pitch as my red colours are fading very fast.

  30. Lucas is rubbish! Why is he still playing every single bloody game for LFC???????????????????????????? What happened last night against wolves? Drop Gerrard into midfield with Mascherano, and leave Aquilani and Kuyt to do the job up front! What the hell? Rafa – WAKE UP!

  31. I am Liverpool fan through and through, and I have one word for Lucas, that is USELESS…the only thing he seems to be able to do is a simple pass (although half of them get intercepted), he has no pace, no skill, no creativity or guile, he OFTEN gives the ball away and is forever giving silly free-kicks away aswell (which have sometimes cost us dearly). If Rafa is to get sacked after this poor season, I would lay the blame SOLELY in the hands of Lucas…you may feel thats harsh, as one player doesn’t make a team, but there’s only 11 players on the pitch, so one very bad cog (especially where he plays, defensively), can effect the whole team…I can’t tell you how frustrating it is to watch Lucas give the ball away time and time again, and just shrug his shoulders like he is world class, I seriously hate watching him play

    Rafa is too defensive anyways, why play with TWO DEFENSIVE midfielders, its mind boggling sometimes, against teams like Wolves or Sunderland, to play so defensive, when instead you could play a more attacking game and get Liverpool playing the way we are used to, a passing attacking game, not a fooking defensive chess match

    All in all, Rafa MUST go, because a leopard doesn’t change his spots, and Lucas will start every game as long as Rafa is here…it angers me that our club is being destroyed by certain people, Rafa included. To play Lucas EVERY games shows a total lack of respect for the fans in my eyes, and shows how disgustingly arrogant the manager can be, and thats certainly NOT a Liverpool trait…bring in KING KENNY DALGLISH, and get these 2 jokes (Rafa and Lucas) out of Liverpool

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