Often in football, there are players who don’t get as much media attention as other players; yet their importance to their team is undeniable. Our latest Player Profile is one such player, Brazilian midfielder Lucas Leiva. After spending some time at Gremio and Liverpool, Leiva came to Lazio last summer and has quickly become an integral part of the Roman club. We will be taking a look at his career so far, before delving further into the clockwork midfield mastery of the central superstar.
Lucas Leiva Career Overview
Lucas Pezzini Leiva was born on the 9th of January 1987 in Dourados, Brazil. He started his footballing career in Brazil and then came to Europe, signing for Liverpool at the age of 20. This itself was a big challenge for a youngster; moving from one continent to another. It is fair to say that Lucas has had as good and long of a career as any player in Europe dreams of. He played with Liverpool for over 10 years, coming in as a boy from Brazil but leaving as a man; one who is loved by all sections of fans around the club. Often, even the opposition too; largely down to his unselfishness and sacrifices he was willing to make for the team.
Lucas started out his career as a professional footballer in Brazil, with Gremio in 2005. The following year, he won Campeonato Gaucho with Gremio and he was a star performer; instrumental in their success. His performances won him the Golden Ball award, chosen by a popular magazine in Brazil and an award that previous winners of include Kaka and Carlos Tevez. He caught the eye of the scouts of some top European clubs with his impressive performances.
Finally it was Liverpool who got his signature for €5 Million – fending off interest from Inter Milan and some top Spanish clubs.
Anfield is where Lucas Leiva got his big break and where he would go on to play for 10 years, between 2007 and 2017. In this time, he made over 247 appearances for the club; and he quickly became a fan-favourite. During his time at Liverpool, he also made 24 caps for his national team and represented them in the 2008 Beijing Olympics; where Brazil won the Bronze.
On the summer of 2017, Lucas Leiva’s decade-long stay with the Reds came to an end. Lazio secured his signature for just €5 Million, after the departure of Lucas Biglia to rivals Milan.
He has a fantastic season with Lazio, being instrumental to both their Serie A and Europa League success. He’s played 37 games in all competitions for Lazio this season, picking up 5 assists and also scoring 4 goals; more than he scored in his entire career at Liverpool.
Rumours are that Lazio director Igli Tare is considering offering a new contract to the Brazilian, after his shining performances in Europe and Italy.
Lucas Leiva Player Analysis
Leiva was a box-to-box midfielder when he started his career at Gremio. He had an attacking ability which created chances by driving the ball up and down the pitch. He would also be doing the dirty work by tackling hard, covering in-case of a counter attack. Such was Leiva’s impact in Brazil, he was touted by the media as a future prospect of the Brazilian national team. He was already captaining the Brazil U-20 national team at the tender age of 19: showcasing his leadership capabilities. Another trait which Lucas had in his time at Gremio was his ability to score goals as a midfielder: scoring 4 goals in his short stint of 30 games at Gremio.
When Lucas was signed, the Reds already had a midfield of Sissoko, Gerrard, Mascherano and Xabi Alonso. Given the names in the squad, it was always difficult for a young player to break into the team straight away. Rafa Benitez remained confident with Lucas’s attitude and ability to play. Finally, he was given his Liverpool debut against FA Cup minnows Havant and Waterlooville; where he scored his first goal. During his initial days at Liverpool, he was deployed as an attacking midfielder who played behind the striker but as days go by, Benitez had other ideas for Lucas. The following season, Lucas was deployed as an orthodox holding midfielder in a 4-4-2 formation. When asked why, Benitez responded by stating his ability to tackle the ball well and his intelligence of the game had influenced his decision.
At Lazio, Lucas has played as more of a traditional defensive-midfielder, being the main focal point between Lazio’s defence and attack. Many of the passes that Lazio play go through Lucas and he is nearly always involved in the build-up play to Lazio’s goals. He is instrumental to holding the team together, covering for midfielders like Marco Parolo and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic; who prefer to stray forward. However, recently Lucas Leiva has been pushing higher and higher up the field and has scored three goals within the last month. He is truly in the prime of his career and here’s hoping that he can lead Lazio to Europa League and Serie A success.