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Goodbye Lucas! The Scouse Brazilian Made His Mark But Liverpool Need To Move On From Barren Spell


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- Andrew Headspeath | HuffPost UK
On July 26 2007, almost exactly a decade ago, 20-year-old Lucas Leiva arrived in the city of Liverpool from Porto Alegre and Gremio.

Ten years and five managers later, with a rare sense of symmetry, the Brazilian departs for Lazio for roughly the same fee for which he arrived, with just shy of 350 appearances for the Reds.

As with anyone who takes to the turf so many times, he will remain a popular figure both within the squad and amongst fans, who have taken the 'Scouse Brazilian' to heart for his longevity, professionalism and quiet passion as much as his talent.

Lucas became the first ever Brazilian to score for Liverpool (with a 25-yard curler that helped spare his new side's blushes in the FA Cup against non-league Havant and Waterlooville), and won the club's Player of the Year award in 2011. In the end, he featured in less than 30 matches in just two of his 10 campaigns, and is now the club's sixth-highest Premier League appearance maker - ahead of Steve McManaman, Michael Owen and David James.

A tactically shrewd, tough tackler - Lucas is also second in the all-time list of tackles made in the Premier League, just five behind overall leader Gareth Barry who has played in more than double the number of games.

While his break up play and positional awareness were his greatest strengths, the Brazil international's influence at Anfield was felt beyond the pitch. He was, by all accounts, a big part of helping many new foreign signings settle into both the team and country, and he also became a trustee of the LFC Foundation.

He was selfless and versatile on the pitch, never reacting negatively to being played out of position or to criticism - something which was particularly prevalent in the early part of his Reds career. However, for all his effort and likability, the fact remains that Lucas' solitary piece of silverware in ten years was the League Cup in 2012.

When the fresh faced Brazilian midfielder - who had already won Brazil's Bola de Ouro as a teenager and reached the Copa Libertadores final (South America's Champions League) - landed at Liverpool airport a decade prior, chances are both player and club predicted and expected grander things in their ten-year plan.

Yet, after several near misses, including reaching the finals of the FA Cup in 2012, EFL Cup and Europa League in 2016 and finishing twice in the Premier League in 2009 and 2014, English football's second most important domestic cup is the only one with which Lucas ever celebrated.

This of course not his fault, but (by virtue or curse of being the club's longest-serving player) his trophy cabinet highlights a regrettably barren period for Liverpool.

Using the previous decade as a comparison, from 1997 to Lucas' signing, the Reds had - while failing to lift the Premier League - got their collective fingerprints onto the FA Cup (twice), the League Cup (twice), the UEFA Super Cup (twice) the UEFA Cup and of course the Champions League.

Lucas will not be their for the famous European nights at Anfield in the Champions League this coming season. Despite his domestic contributions, he made just 26 appearances in Europe's most-coveted club competition during his tenure.

Even his individual honour of being named Player of the Year in 2011, came during a particularly low ebb for the club. The Reds, under Roy Hodgson and later Kenny Dalglish, finished sixth in the Premier League - losing 14 times along the way - went out of both domestic cups in the third round and saw their star striker leave for rivals Chelsea in January.

Sadly, Lucas' time is over just as Jurgen Klopp's is getting going, and but for another season or two his personal medal haul might just have filled the mantlepiece a little more impressively, given the direction the club appears to be taking under the German.

Liverpool's new arrivals this summer, Mohamed Salah, Dominic Solanke and Andrew Robertson, can only hope to replicate the the 30-year-old's longevity, and to embody the spirit of the club in a similar manner. However, surely they (and the fans) will hope whatever time they spend on Merseyside will prove more fruitful than the period of 2007 to 2017.

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