Sorry Ollie, Lucas Leiva is just NOT good enough!

Reading Ollie Irish’s article (Liverpool midfielder Lucas Leiva- as bad as they say?, 29/09/09) about how Lucas Leiva isn’t as bad as some Liverpool fans say he is, I was about to post a reply, but I didn’t think I could do it justice in such a small space so here goes.
fficeffice" />>>
There is some truth to the fact that fans were disappointed because we were expecting a flair player. There is just something about ‘Brazilian Player of the Year’ that screams Romario rather than Dunga. Also, you have to remember that Lucas came into the squad as the popular Luis Garcia was sold, and we though he would provide the same flair that Garcia did. I totally accept that is not Lucas’ fault.
>>
Rafa Benitez seems to have some sort of defensive midfielder fixation, as that’s the type of player he loves to buy. The problem Lucas has was that we spent £6m on him, not a small sum of money, and we didn’t feel we were getting any kind of return. He didn’t endear himself by constantly giving the ball away and playing with a languid intensity that made Ryan Babel look like Dirk Kuyt.
>>
Liverpool’s squad is stocked with superstars who could play for any team on the planet, (e.g. Torres, Gerrard), then there are players who are good but not great (Kuyt, Riera), and then there’s the total rubbish that only their mothers can love (Degen, Dossena). Lucas lies somewhere between the last two categories. He is just another page in the book of mediocrity that is the current Liverpool squad.
>>
Lucas is being deployed as a holding midfielder. In that position, especially in the 4-2-3-1 formation Benitez uses, you want someone who can either control the game through their passing, like Xabi Alonso or Michael Carrick, or a complete animal who will run through brick walls to get the ball back, like Javier Mascherano, Lorik Cana or Wilson Palacios.
>>
Teams feared Xabi Alonso because they knew that if he was given time, he could pick out the pass that would split their defence open. They fear Javier Mascherano who will run after them unrelentingly and make tackle after tackle, never giving them a moment’s peace on the ball. Lucas is about as menacing to opposition teams as a kittens fart.
>>
Lucas is a defensive midfielder but I’m not convinced that’s his natural position. The fact is I don’t know what his position would be. He seems to want to go forward and attack but is pretty useless when he does and he doesn’t seem to have the discipline required to play in the holding midfielder position.
>>
His passing has also slightly improved, but it is still not at the level we need it to be. He plays it simple more than he used to but still makes bad decisions and has trouble putting the right weight on his forward passes, meaning they either are overhit or not hit hard enough.
>>
The worst part of his game is that he simply cannot tackle. He has given away countless freekicks in dangerous positions due to his clumsiness already this season, and seeing how bad our defending of set-pieces is, conceding needless fouls is just not good enough.
>>
Going forward he isn’t much of a threat. His shooting is atrocious, with almost every shot either underhit/sliced or ending up in Row Z (though he’s still more accurate than Voronin). I still have not been able to fathom why Benitez brought him on time and again when we were chasing games last season, as he repeatedly failed to make any discernable impact.
>>
I don’t agree that his positional sense has improved. He is caught in no-mans land in midfield too often, not helping attack or defence, and as stated before often gives stupid fouls away in dangerous areas. His first touch is still poor; remember when he did that Maradona turn against Villa? I remember the woeful touch that necessitated that bit of improvisation, again that was just outside the box and he was lucky not to lose the ball in a dangerous position.
>>
Yes, Lucas is still young, but he has been a first-team regular for almost two seasons now, appearing in some capacity in most games last season, and has started most games this season. He is now at a level of experience (he’s played 80 games now) where those rookie mistakes should not be happening anymore.
>>
It is also true that he is a Brazilian international. Remember Kleberson at Man United? He was one too, playing for Brazil doesn’t automatically equate to being a superstar. Also, take into account that Dunga is pretty unpopular in Brazil, as his team isn’t playing the usual Brazilian way, instead playing a more workmanlike style of football. While Dunga may deem Lucas worthy of selection, he probably wouldn’t make the squad of any other Brazil manager.
>>
I do respect the way Lucas has handled the criticism that has come his way. He hasn’t let it get him down too much and he has always bounced back. He has improved his physical strength and doesn’t get knocked off the ball as much as he used too. He has had a few good games, notably at Old Trafford and Stamford Bridge in the Champions League last season.
>>
No Liverpool fan expected Lucas to be the new Alonso; we’d seen him play before! That mantle has fallen on Alberto Aquilani. We know what Lucas brings to the table and we simply don’t think its good enough. While he may well develop into a more than useful midfielder, and I hope he goes on to have a successful career, I can’t see him ever making a real difference to Liverpool.