The Cult of Lucas Leiva

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Liverpool fans are an emotional and nostalgic bunch. We feel the need to eulogise our players to the point where there always needs to be someone at the club who can be considered a legend. With Lucas Leiva the longest standing player at the club and the only member of the first team who was around the last time we won a trophy except for our captain (and God knows our fan-base will refuse to acknowledge Hendo as a good player now, let alone a legend), it is Lucas who is currently, strangely, being eulogised.

And that’s not to say Lucas hasn’t done Liverpool a service over his decade at the club, but it is fair to say that to think of him as being a great player for the club is simply not accurate. Liverpool have had many great players over the last ten years, but Lucas simply isn’t one of them. He’s an okay defensive midfielder who’s had a couple of good seasons at the club and plenty of below average seasons. He was poor for a handful of years after he joined, then had a few decent seasons before fading out of the limelight again in recent years.

So why is Lucas bizarrely seen as, a sort of Dirk Kuyt or Xabi Alonso like figure, someone who has given his all for the club and has been an extremely good player for us over a number of years?

Well, part of it is as I say, the need to have someone. With Gerrard and Carragher both retiring, the likes of Reina, Kuyt and Alonso also all gone too, and even Luis Suarez has now departed, Liverpool fans need someone to embody the club. They need to have a player on the pitch who represents Liverpool Football Club. And Lucas, having been around the club for ten years, is seen as that player.

Another reason that Lucas is seen as a great amongst fans is that he’s the only player left from the Rafa Benitez era when Liverpool were regularly and consistently competing for trophies, and of course, won several trophies. Although Lucas only won one trophy at Liverpool, the 2012 League Cup final which he didn’t feature in (although Henderson started that game), the fact that he played alongside Gerrard, Torres, Alonso, Kuyt et al in their prime means that he has the nostalgia factor attached to him that makes him almost a great by osmosis.

And a third reason is that Lucas absolutely loves the club. Whilst his loyalty per se hasn’t been tested in a way that Gerrard’s was in 2005 since Lucas hasn’t been linked to a bigger club than Liverpool, he’s also turned down the opportunity to leave to get more game time. Moreover, he’s a popular figure amongst the fans on social media with his signature quote: “unlucky” as well as his usage of it to troll Everton fans.

So has Lucas earned some of the love that comes his way, or is he a perennial underperformer who has struggled to contribute over the last decade? Well, the answer is somewhere in the middle. Certainly, Lucas has always played second fiddle to technically superior players: Gerrard, Alonso and Mascherano in the early stages of his Liverpool career; Henderson and Emre Can in the later stages and um…Charlie Adam?

Lucas has never been a hugely successful player at Liverpool. He had a poor start to his Liverpool career but found himself elevated by the departures of Alonso and Mascherano, along with the lack of quality replacing them in order to excel in the team between 2009 and 2011, starting 32 games in both the 2009-10 and 2010-11 season.

The problem is that Lucas’ better seasons came when Liverpool were at their lowest point. With the likes of Henderson emerging as a real talent, Gerrard a stalwart in the side and Liverpool signing some genuinely classy players since 2012, Lucas has increasingly fallen away in terms of significance to the side. Lucas can still do a job in defensive midfield, but simply put he is a huge step down on Liverpool’s available options and as a converted central defender he is simply a disaster. Whether he can’t cope with a high-tempo based game or simply isn’t that good, Lucas’ performances in the Jürgen Klopp era have been synonymous with every backwards step Liverpool have taken.

Lucas isn’t a bad player, far from it, but he’s not a particularly good one either. Which makes it strange that Liverpool fans have chosen him to make as the new “legend” of the club. Especially when we consider that Martin Skrtel was abused consistently on social media before he left last summer despite being at the club for 8 years, engaging in some of the club’s highs but never really rising above average or being able to shake his liability tag. Certainly, there were periods where Lucas and Skrtel together was a recipe for conceding goals, yet with Skrtel gone, Lucas seems to have gained a new level of reverence.

Liverpool fans are a nostalgic bunch, but maybe we should let the idea that Lucas is a Liverpool hero die, especially if that false perception continues as we concede more goals with him on the pitch in 2017/18. He’s not good enough for the club, he hasn’t been for several years now, and it’s okay to accept that.

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  1. A disgraceful piece. The reason right minded fans like Lucas so much is that he embodies all that is good about Liverpool. Every time he gets knocked down like managers trying to move him on practically every summer or 2 knee injuries that keep him out for 2 years he battles back without fuss or fanfare. Just like Istanbul. Just like Dortmund.

  2. What a load of rubbish, Tom. “Not particularly good” players don’t get voted Player of the Season. Lucas has received that accolade. Of course his best seasons were in the middle part of his time at Liverpool. Players get better as they get older and then start losing it as they get older still. To class his prime years as merely “decent” is ridiculous. He was the best player at the club over a couple of years which, given his teammates, is a stunning achievement. That was only stopped by the horrendous knee injury he got. Couple that ability with his attitude throughout his extensive career at Liverpool and it is perfectly understandable and right that he is lauded as a Liverpool legend. The amount of nonsense you have written would suggest that you have written this piece merely to act as click-bait. I hope that is the case. If not then your inability to analyse will make you a poor football writer. I suggest you work on your craft.

  3. This is pure sh*t of a write up. Perhaps you didn’t put into consideration the number of managers he actually survived and is still almost doing. He’s not too great but he’s spent 10years. Not many players get to do that. Get a grip and write better next time.

  4. Absolutely true. Well done. I thought I was the only one that knew that Lucas is the epitome of Liverpool’s averageness since the Benitez era (excluding the 13/14 season where Brendan rarely used him). Linked to an exit every window for the last 10 years (with no serious takers, or last minute injuries to prevent his departure); time to go, mate.

  5. Lucas is much much better than people give him credit for – a Player of the Season – where’s the respect, he’s a Liverpool player that earned that accolade, not due to God given talent but for playing and doing everything for the club and he’s damned with this faint praise – terrible!

    Elevated because of the departures of Alonso and Mascherano? Crap – he was anything but elevated because of those 2, in fact he bore the brunt of the fan’s wrath when we lost those 2 world class players.
    Seen as a great because he’s the only one left form Rafa Benitez’ era? Again, complete BS – he was the pilloried because of Rafa, remember when he replaced Gerrard against madrid?

    Effort for the shirt should command the biggest respect, bigger than talent that doesn’t love the club even if ultimately we need that talent. Lucas has helped so many foreigners who joined our club and has acted more than a captain on so many occasions never seeking the limelight

    Lucas never had the most skill but like Kuyt those that work hard for the club and put in a stint will always have my affection and respect

    And, yeah great CK, bigging up the author because he decided to expose Lucas’ averageness – let’s celebate those pulling down our players shall we?

    Lucas no longer fits the team we have with Klopp, that happens, but he was a Liverpool player, a good Liverpool player, a good man. He did not choose to remain under contract and pick up a wage – each year he was linked with going and looked forward to getting more game time with another club, and each and every time it was the club that asked him to stay for their benefuit at the expense of his chances of playing – yet for some it’s ‘last minute injuries’ (with the insinuation that he wormed his way into an extension – shame on you!!

    I dont think I’ve oft been so angry in readding an article on Liverpool. This article is shocking – imagine Lucas reading this? Imagine all he has given and then he reads this.

    I despair with the new generation of ‘fans’.

  6. I believe we need Lucas even as a squad player as we’re gonna need every player possible! Even just 1 more season especially as £ we would get wouldn’t help much! I read somewhere that kloops lack of January signings was hoping us back but no! In January you never get the quality & have to pay way over there worth for all! So saving £ to put into summer budget was worth it!
    We all know we can’t compete with other top teams on transfer budget but klopp showed last summer he’s great in transfer window! My only reservation is Liverpool club not paying for kloops main targets

  7. What a terrible article.

    I agree with the comments by Steven O Sullivan, Andrew, Gedly and Patricia Hodgson above.

    I hope Lucas stays with the club and above all doesn’t read this article.

  8. Christ, the state of the comments here. It just confirms what the article is about – people have elevated him to a hilariously unwarranted extent. You can’t all be related to Lucas surely, you f**king idiots.

  9. i agree. developing lucas it was like losing tempo in chess, i even thought we bought an Attacking midfielder in 2005. he was one of the weakest link during 2007-2010 when many in the first team are injured and we rely on him. AND KUYT ! whoa don’t get me started with that fraud mediocre



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