10 Feb 2016

'Klopp was right!': Jamie Carragher hails 'outstanding' £76k-a-week Liverpool star but slams 'silly' set piece

Against West Ham last night, many fans (myself included) were confused by Jurgen Klopp's decision to play Lucas at centre-back, especially when paired with the lightweight and inexperienced Tiago Ilori. Luckily, the experiment paid off (for the most part), and Reds legend Jamie Carragher has hailed Lucas's immense performance...with one minor criticism.

Reacting to Liverpool's 2-1 defeat, Carra hailed Lucas as a 'colossus', and noted:

"Couldn't understand Klopp using Lucas at centre-back in the last few months but looks like he was right! Lucas also still loves to concede a free kick. You're asking for trouble conceding silly set pieces".

Irrespective of his performance, starting Lucas alongside Ilori was a major risk. Individually, it paid off, but the team ultimately lost the game, and Lucas conceded the needless free-kick that led to West Ham's winning goal.

That one incident should not devalue Lucas's overall performance, though. Players give away fouls all the time, and if the players defended the set-piece properly, then free-kick would've been moot.

Is there a case for Lucas to be converted into a central defender? Absolutely, but it's amusing (and somewhat tragic) to note Lucas's gradual regression from attacker into defender.

Lucas arrived at Liverpool as one of Brazil's most promising young attacking midfielders, and recipient of the Bola de Ouro (Golden Ball), previously won by attacking luminaries such as Zico, Falcão, Romario, Robinho, Kaká and Tévez. Indeed, Rafa Benítez confirmed that he'd signed Lucas as an AM:

"I'm looking forward to seeing Lucas score goals for Liverpool in the future".

Well, 303 appearances later and Lucas has a paltry six goals to his name (!)

It's not his fault though; every player wants to be in the first team, and Lucas has 'adapted' his game to suit the needs of the team. And when I say adapted, I mean he's been forced by successive managers to play a defensive role in order to accommodate other players.

Liverpool have basically bred the attacking instinct out of Lucas and turned him into a creatively bereft workhorse. Not many teams can lay claim to the dubious honour of converting an attacking Brazilian into a water-carrier, but that's precisely what's happened at Anfield.

All's well that ends well, right? Not for me. There's just something inherently tragic about the deliberate suppression of creative instinct, and the concomitant failure to realise creative potential.

Over the last eight years, Lucas moved from attacking midfield, to defensive midfield, and now into central defence. If the natural regression continues, there's only one place left to go...

Arise, Sir Lucas of Leiva, Liverpool's new...goalkeeper?

* Lucas: reported salary £76k-a-week

Author: Jaimie K


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