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Lucas Leiva – The Best Defensive Midfielder In The Premier League

Detailing how Lucas Leiva has developed from a player the fans used to boo, into the best defensive midfielder in the Premier League.

Maxi, Glen Johnson and Charlie Adam might have scored all the goals in the last three matches against Chelsea and Manchester City, but no player was more impressive than Lucas Leiva. Indeed, the Brazilian has been one of Liverpool’s best for the last 18 months.

When he broke down after a clash with Ryan Bertrand it immediately looked bad. Liverpool fans now almost universally acknowledge his benefit to the team and most were justifiably concerned at the sight of him clutching his knee in agony.

With news breaking on the official site that Jonjo Shelvey has been recalled from his loan immediately all signs are pointing to a lengthy injury layoff for the Brazilian stalwart, although the results of his scans have yet to be announced.

Of course, Lucas wasn’t always thought of so highly by the Anfield faithful. “The boos at Anfield were the lowest point in my career” he said after a dire 0-0 draw against Fulham in which he was heckled from the stands. Lucas had this to say in an interview with the Guardian in March 2011,

“Things were not looking good and some supporters were obviously not happy. I still think people needed to see the bigger picture. The move to Liverpool represented a change of country, language and there was also the not so small detail that I was only 20 and arriving at a traditional club in one of the most demanding leagues in the world.

Also, few people seemed to remember Liverpool had a group of players that had made two of the last three Champions League finals. It would have been impossible to just parachute in. Maybe the supporters thought a Brazilian midfielder would do magic.”

Aside from those obstacles Lucas also had to deal with a challenging transition from playing in a much more attacking role for Gremio to a strict holding role under Benitez, as well as the weight of expectation that comes from being the youngest ever winner of the Bola de Ouro in 2006 (won by players like Kaka, Robinho and Carlos Tevez to name but a few) as well as playing for one of the most attacking footballing nations in history.

“In Gremio I had carte blanche to go forward and participate more in the attacking plays. But things had to change when I arrived in Liverpool, where I am used much more as a holding midfielder. That transition took time and made settling in even more challenging. It was necessary to prove to Mano that I could still be useful.”

Sure enough, Lucas proved he could be more than useful, evolving his game and developing into arguably the best defensive midfielder in the Premier League.

During the back end of last season, he and Jay Spearing formed a formidable midfield partnership which destroyed attacks that came their way and allowed Luis Suarez and the like to go out and play. The Brazilian was a key component in Liverpool’s late climb up the table, and his form in the league saw him cement his place in the Brazilian national team.

Fast forward to this season and he is topping the statistics for the most successful tackles (68) in the league. He is also consistently at the top of the distribution charts, with 687 total passes, 57 passes per game and a passing accuracy of 86%, stats that are better than any other Liverpool player and up there with the best midfielders in the league.

In December 2008 Rafa Benitez already knew how good a player he would become,

“People just don’t know how good Lucas is. He is a fantastic player, he was captain of his club side at 19 and has already won full caps with Brazil. Not just any country, but Brazil. He has captained their under-21s and their Olympic team.”

It takes a good attitude to bounce back from the boos Lucas once endured, but to develop into the player he has become is truly extraordinary. Hopefully the Brazilian’s injury is not serious and he’ll be back soon enough, because losing him will be a huge blow for Liverpool’s top four push.



  1. Ashfah Hussain

    December 1, 2011 at 9:55 am

    Wow! This should attract MU and a host of clubs in the Continent to buy him. Liverpool should profit from this.

    • abraham

      December 1, 2011 at 12:24 pm

      hey hussain, why dont you just SHUT UP! You have to be a loser not to see a winner in front of you. SHUT UP!

  2. FeelGood

    December 1, 2011 at 10:04 am

    Come on Lucas, you are the best in your position ! I am praying to God that’s the injury is not serious. Anyway, whatever happens, just keep faith. You will be back soon 🙂

  3. Jonjo sheckly

    December 1, 2011 at 10:11 am

    My full sympathy is with Lucas at this distressing time, as he was an exceptional asset to liverpool football club, he will be sadly missed in our defensive midfield.

  4. Wily Deadman

    December 1, 2011 at 11:48 am

    My concern is not about we missing him, but the history/record this guy is about to make… Hopefuly he come back in less than 2-months time. This guy is good. GET WELL SOONEST LUCAS. YNWA

  5. packo

    December 1, 2011 at 2:57 pm

    Shut your lousy lips….Alex Song is better than any other defensive midfielder….at the moment

    • YNWA

      December 1, 2011 at 6:24 pm

      Alex song??? So according to stats how many tackles has he succesfully made???

  6. Jay

    December 1, 2011 at 3:40 pm

    To the author of this article, it was a tackle on Mata not Ryan Bertyard

    • liverpoolfootballblog

      December 2, 2011 at 1:23 am

      To the author of this comment. No, Lucas collided with Bertrand.

      • liverpoolfootballblog

        December 2, 2011 at 1:24 am

        “The Brazil midfielder was carried off on a stretcher in the second half of the Reds’ 2-0 Carling Cup quarter-final win at Chelsea on Tuesday, after an innocent coming together with Ryan Bertrand.”

        From the Guardian. Check your facts before you start coming off as a smarmy know-it-all please.

  7. P g

    December 1, 2011 at 11:28 pm

    Now you will see the different we can have some one can pass and not giving the ball away to cheply come back alonso we have mist you

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