Lucas Leiva: Criminally Underrated

By on April 24, 2011

I shall be the first to honestly say that I have booed when Lucas came on or when he had the ball. But this season, the Brazilian midfielder has really come to his own.

Whether it be because of Mascherano’s departure from Liverpool or whether it be just a simple case of him stepping it up, Lucas has improved a whole lot this season. His passing is more precise, his tackling definitely more ferocious and he has been the midfield enforcer all season.

Steven Gerrard’s injury woes has even seemed to cause Lucas’ performances to improve, as it seems that he has been taking over the role of the tough tackling and the through passing for the reds. Not a midfielder who scores that often, but a quality defensive minded midfielder who tracks back for Liverpool, with the Arsenal game being an obvious example. He tracked back to help Jack Robinson and John Flanagan to make the crucial tackles in the game.

So here’s a video of Lucas in action.

Submitted by Two Liverpool Fans

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22 Comments

  1. Rufus

    April 24, 2011 at 10:19 am

    Never boo your own players while playing for us it can hardly help, I remember Ronaldhinio praising Lucas and I think he knows a player well done Lucas for showing that you are more needed to Liverpool than Alonso, your shorter passes and mobility helps a team play football rather than the longer balls of Alonso, If Liverpool kept Aquillani with Gerrard and Merieles we would have a classy central midfield hub that could seriously challenge for the title . Well done Lucas I knew you were come through and there is more to come for sure. YNWA

  2. Rufus

    April 24, 2011 at 10:21 am

    Never boo your own players while playing for us it can hardly help, I remember Ronaldhinio praising Lucas and I think he knows a player, well done Lucas for showing that you are more needed to Liverpool than Alonso, your shorter passes and mobility helps a team play football rather than the longer balls of Alonso, If Liverpool kept Aquillani with Gerrard and Merieles we would have a classy central midfield hub that could seriously challenge for the title . Well done Lucas I knew you were come through and there is more to come for sure. YNWA

  3. Rufus

    April 24, 2011 at 10:23 am

    Never boo your own players while playing for us it can hardly help, I remember Ronaldhinio praising Lucas and I think he knows a player well done Lucas for showing that you are more needed to Liverpool than Alonso, your shorter passes and mobility helps a team play football rather than the longer balls of Alonso, If Liverpool kept Aquillani with Gerrard and Merieles we would have a classy central midfield hub that could seriously challenge for the title . Well done Lucas I knew you would come through and there is more to come for sure. YNWA

  4. s baxter

    April 24, 2011 at 10:24 am

    You clearly don’t understand football. Lucas has always shown these characteristics but now they are being ackowledged by the media etc everyone else (like you in this article) is jumping on the bandwagon. He has always been fully committed, never shirked tackles and rarely gives the ball away. Granted he moves the ball forward more these days but surely this is a reflection of a change in tactics by KK

    • Towson Tom

      April 24, 2011 at 10:59 am

      S Baxter – could’nt have put it better myself!

  5. Stevie

    April 24, 2011 at 11:01 am

    To be fair to the author, Lucas was awful until a couple of seasons ago. He gave the ball away in dangerous positions every game as he lacked the courage to play it forward and so always looked for the sideways pass.

    Forwards knew this and regularly pounced, forcing Lucas to bring them down outside the box virtually every game. That’s if they had to, because he also had a habit of passing it straight to them.

    The reason he was booed was because (the otherwise great) Rafa would insist on bringing/leaving him on when we were chasing a game and had more creative players available (including the now beatified Alonso). He would therefore get booed whilst waiting to come on or go off not necessarily because of who he was, but because of who he wasn’t.

    His problem seems to have been in his head. This is not surprising really, as he was an alternative to mascherano, alonso and gerrard, surely three of the best central midfielders in the world. He therefore seemed paralysed by the fact he wasn’t as good at tackling/positioning as masch, at passing as alonso and at making runs/shooting like Gerrard. What he has realised now is that he can be 70% of each and be a damn good player.

    He has been our best player this season and deserves all the plaudits he gets for the mental strength he has shown in coming through his awful start for Liverpool; but please, spare us this ‘we always knew he was class’ b******s, because I was on the Kop when he has was getting stick every single game from virtually everyone – and they were right.

    He used to be sh*te, but now he’s alright, and we’re walking in a Lucas wonderland….

    • ds

      April 24, 2011 at 11:19 am

      Haha, I wrote some very similar things while you posted this.

      So I guess I seconded your every word 😛

    • Stevie

      April 24, 2011 at 5:42 pm

      By the way, I don’t agree with booing any Liverpool player (never done it), I’m just explaining what those who did do it were thinking – most of the booing (only happened three times as far as I know) was when he was due to come on and was a reaction to what the fans thought was a bad tactical decision, not when he was coming off. Also, half of the noise was people turning to their mates in despair and saying ‘Noooo’, which amplified the few numpties who were genuinely booing him (I presume they had learned public decorum from Big Brother evictions, as most of today’s youngsters have).

      It wasn’t just ‘the plastic fans’ who gave him hell at Anfield though, some of them were sitting behind me. I don’t see the difference between screaming ‘you’re f*cking shite’ and booing; I don’t like it, it is not the Liverpool way and it just goes to show how badly H&G corroded the ethos of our club that some hard core fans felt it was acceptable to have a go at the players as a proxy for the Texan Tosser.

      Anyway, in my opinion, and it is only my opinion, having watched him as much as any of you, for Lucas’ first two years between 2007 and 2009, he was, mostly, putting in performances that were way below the standard of Liverpool football club for a central midfielder. The fact that a single pass against Newcastle stands out, when Stevie G and Alonso were doing that sort of pass every game makes my point. To be honest, I’ve played that sort of pass in the Sunday league once in a blue moon and Danny Murphy played many more than the man who effectively replaced him for the next two years. The question is consistency.

      By the way, anyone who relies on stats regarding tackles to justify their opinions are either Piers Moron or Damien Comolli. Michael Brown was one of the most successful tacklers in the premier league in 2007-2008 – would you be happy with him in midfield for Liverpool? I’d rather eat my own legs than have him playing for us.

      Quite simply, Lucas was not ready to play in centre midfield for Liverpool between 2007 and early 2009. Last season he played to the standard of a Liverpool squad player. This season he has been our best player. If he keeps going like this, maybe some of these ‘real fans’ on here will join me in singing his name, because I’ve yet to hear it.

      Even if you think he was a great player since he signed, would you really have ranked him for those two years amongst the top 30 midfielders in the world? That is the standard of Liverpool football club (and he was frequently keeping out one of the three top-thirty centre midfielders in the world when he played).

      Liverpool FC is not Arsenal. We do not carry passengers in centre midfield for two trophyless years while they toughen up.

  6. ds

    April 24, 2011 at 11:15 am

    Well, Lucas did very badly in his first season at Anfield.
    I could understand why people booed him back then, though I hate it when fans do it. Fans should cheer their players and team, not upset them.
    Last year Lucas has been very inconsistent, putting some steady preformances, but also some sh*t ones.

    But – this year I must say I was shocked. Lucas looks like such a good player. I have never thought he could play at this level. He obviously can, and has been wonderful for a while now. He has great game intelligence, tackling fiercely, and not doing anything wrong on the pitch, basically.
    I would love to see him keeping that defensive midfielder role next season. I think he has proved all critics wrong. He is one of the best defensive mids I’ve seen for a while now.
    I would also like to point out that he plays with his own style, and I have not seen many def mids who rely on short passes that much, while running forwards at just the right times, not leaving the back exposed at any time.

    Who could’ve thought an attacking mid that won the brazilian player of the year can turn into such a good defensive midfielder?

  7. Towson Tom

    April 24, 2011 at 11:17 am

    Nobody could dispute that he has improved and nobody mentioned class. what I did see in him and always have ( because I believed in Raffa like most of us did) was the potential he is now living up to, I still don’t see him as “class” but he is very efficient at what he does. A team needs workers in some positions and class in others and Lucas is a very good worker.

  8. Ste

    April 24, 2011 at 12:16 pm

    Anyone who boos their own players isn’t a true supporter. The desperate attempts to justify it here are pathetic.

  9. boon

    April 24, 2011 at 1:10 pm

    Lucas has always been good. He has become better and the team now evolves around him too, not just SG. I am happy to see Flanagan, Robinson coming good too, so did Spearing.. Waiting for Suarez and Carrol to have the telephatic understand to terrorize the final 3rd. When SG comes back, it will be our season next yr !

  10. shuggieo

    April 24, 2011 at 2:07 pm

    How could the young lad of played well when his own fans are booing him. The facts are that he came to another country and a totally different culture at a very young age. The manger who bought him told the media that he was a box to box player who scored goals and then turned him in to a defensive holding midfielder. The player had to get use to the physical aspect of the English game while learning a new position in a key area of the the pitch. So when this player is struggling for form even though he has shown glimpses of what he can produce like when he made his debut in the Derby, the assist for Gerard 2nd goal in the 08/09 5-1 away win at Newcastle and playing apart in one of Liverpool greatest premier league victories when they beat Man United 4-1 away. What happens the media look for a scapegoat they pick on the weakest play in their eyes and like sheep a lot the fans follow. They don’t back the player back in to form they try to hound him out of the club. But that was the best thing to happen to Lucas It showed what the player is made of, didn’t moan or want to leave the club. He stuck it out, beef up his body and adapted to his new role and for the last to seasons has raised he game up to a level where I see him being a future Liverpool captain. Liverpool is known as an area where people know you have to graft to earn a living, an area that times has had it backs against the wall in times of adversity. Players Lucas and Kuyt embody the spirit of Liverpool F.C as well the local lads and i’m proud to have them in my team.

  11. trev

    April 24, 2011 at 2:09 pm

    lucas has been excellent i was one of his biggest critics but he has improved drastically still think kenny will buy a DM in the summer

  12. Dave

    April 24, 2011 at 3:06 pm

    Cheers Stevie, I felt compelled to write a comment on this article and you have literally said everything I was going too !

    In summary fantastic player this season. garbage the last few !

  13. Soulman1703

    April 24, 2011 at 4:00 pm

    Thankfully there have always been true and decent supporters to get behind players like Lucas. If it was left to the morons who need the media to tell them what to think we’d lose more young stars than manage to hold it together and develop into internationals. Lucas has always had the talent and was the only player Rafa trusted to substitute and cover for any one of four international players. How crap could he really have been. Yes he has improved but he always had that in him. Booing your own players? Don’t pretend you are a supporter if you can’t get behind your players and your team when they aren’t playing well you shouldn’t be anywhere near the team or the ground. There are numbskulls who sit in the paddock and are within earshot of players warming up. These arseholes are berating the players before they have come onto the pitch. These players are still young men. They are going to wear the team shirt and put their bodies on the line for the team. Booing your own players. Go and tag yourself onto a plastic team like manure. Then you can disappear before the end of the game when you are losing and not bother to applaud them off even when they have reached a semi or a final. That is not and has never been out way. You people who would have sold Lucas having destroyed his confidence first make me sick. LFC can do without you. Go and find yourself then come back when you deserve to watch and support our great team. I’ve been there since the second division. I’m guessing you turned up pretty recently and would be better going where the results have been bought and paid for rather than somewhere where they are won by effort, fair play and honest endeavor. Deserved not acquired by corruption of our beautiful game. If you want to moan then fair enough but that should be left for the pub or at home after the game. Anyone calling themselves a fan or even ex players should think about what the manager is trying to achieve and provide that 12 man for our team not the opposition. Tell you what go and take up some spectator sport and see how much of a difference positive and negative supporters can make. We don’t have 5 european cups because dickheads booed our team. European night aren’t special because we sit silently in armchairs watching TV, it’s because we make a bloody effort to get behind our team and players and lift them when they no gas left in the tank. Leave you bloody computer switched off and do everyone a favour don’t go to another match (if you’ve ever been to one) until you worked as hard at being a true supporter not a hanger on and a leach. Enough fans like you and it wouldn’t matter who was manager or which players we could afford, we’d never win anything ever again. You know what, that’s all you would deserve.

  14. Soulman1703

    April 24, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    Oh and by the way Lucas has had more completed passes and successful tackles than any other Prem player this season, was second top last season and better than Mascherano in his last season for the club, how does that add up to being good this season and garbage the last few. You see what to expect to see or are told to see. Waste of a god given brain and eyes to do some research and observation for yourself. Maybe you should go to the games instead of sitting in front of the Murdoch and Manc tube.

    • Stevie

      April 24, 2011 at 5:54 pm

      By the way, I don’t agree with booing any Liverpool player (never done it), I’m just explaining what those who did do it were thinking – most of the booing (only happened three times as far as I know) was when he was due to come on and was a reaction to what the fans thought was a bad tactical decision, not when he was coming off. Also, half of the noise was people turning to their mates in despair and saying ‘Noooo’, which amplified the few numpties who were genuinely booing him (I presume they had learned public decorum from Big Brother evictions, as most of today’s youngsters have).

      It wasn’t just the ‘plastic fans’ who gave him hell at Anfield though, some of them were sitting behind me. I don’t see the difference between screaming ‘you’re f***ing sh*te’ and booing; I don’t like it, it is not the Liverpool way and it just goes to show how badly H&G corroded the ethos of our club that some hard core fans felt it was acceptable to have a go at the players as a proxy for the Texan Tosser.

      Anyway, in my opinion, and it is only my opinion, having watched him as much as any of you, for Lucas’ first two years between 2007 and 2009, he was, mostly, putting in performances that were way below the standard of Liverpool football club for a central midfielder. The fact that a single pass against Newcastle stands out, when Stevie G and Alonso were doing that sort of pass every game makes my point. To be honest, I’ve played that sort of pass in the Sunday league once in a blue moon and Danny Murphy played many more than the man who effectively replaced him for the next two years. The question is consistency.

      By the way, anyone who relies on stats regarding tackles to justify their opinions are either Piers Moron or Damien Comolli. Michael Brown was one of the most successful tacklers in the premier league in 2007-2008 – would you be happy with him in midfield for Liverpool? I’d rather eat my own legs than have him playing for us.

      Quite simply, Lucas was not ready to play in centre midfield for Liverpool between 2007 and early 2009. Last season he played to the standard of a Liverpool squad player. This season he has been our best player. If he keeps going like this, maybe some of these ‘real fans’ on here will join me in singing his name, because I’ve yet to hear it.

      Even if you think he was a great player since he signed, would you really have ranked him for those two years amongst the top 30 midfielders in the world? That is the standard of Liverpool football club (and he was frequently keeping out one of the three top-thirty centre midfielders in the world when he played).

      Liverpool FC is not Arsenal. We do not carry passengers in centre midfield for two trophyless years while they toughen up.

  15. Colie

    April 24, 2011 at 7:13 pm

    Sorry Stevie, but you’re way off the mark, does that mean Spearing can go and take a walk elsewhere until he becomes one of the top 30 midfielders in the world. I have never heard such rubbish, does that also mean you would of left Gerrard out of the team while he pogressed until he was unbelievable….don’t be such a tard. Lucas had to replace Alonso in midfield who was a fully experienced player and international and fully developed….Lucas was 22…..get a life will you. Take a leaf out of soulmans attitude, because that would make Liverpool the greatest supported club in the world, numpties like you hold the club back. If you want to be a pundit, go and become one, until then no-one wants to hear your negative rantings.

  16. shuggieo

    April 24, 2011 at 9:11 pm

    The fact is that a lot of football fans are stereotypical. Lucas is Brazilian but because he doesn’t play like a flair player he must be crap. That applies a lot to the mainstream media too who are a joke. Not surprisingly the only journalist that supported Lucas during that time was the South American reporter Tim Vickery. Like is said before Lucas wasn’t helped that Rafa description of the player was way of the mark of what he has turned out to be. Gerard Houllier was also bad at hyping up a player before they had kicked a ball.
    Another thing is the role that Lucas plays isn’t Hollywood billing its the engine room and you only look at the engine when the car is having problems. Don’t get me wrong Lucas can improve a lot more by attacking more and pressing higher up the pitch but I am just glad that we will rep the reward of the fruits because we were so close to making a big mistake by getting rid of him.

  17. Justin

    April 24, 2011 at 9:43 pm

    Tbh i felt really pitty on lucas for when he said he felt disappointed that he didnt make the world cup and when he said that he stepped his game up because he missed out on world cup and fans was booing him …. unlike most i didnt have high expectations for lucas at his first season due to the fact he is a young age and the premier league is the hardest league to adapt to. Now this season he has come out more and shown what he can do.
    I believe lucas will be a valuable member and will be with us for many years… YNWA

  18. Liverpool Football Blog

    April 26, 2011 at 4:42 pm

    You guys talk nonsense some times.

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