Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher believes the injury that has ruled midfielder Lucas Leiva out for the remainder of the season has robbed the Reds of their “best player”.
Lucas suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury in his side’s 2-0 win over Chelsea in the Carling Cup quarter final on Tuesday, with scans confirming the Brazilian internationals worst fears yesterday.
Carragher believes that while forward Luis Suarez has attracted the most headlines since making the switch to Anfield in January, the form of Lucas over the past two seasons makes him Liverpool’s best player.
“For the last 18 months, in my opinion, he has been our best player," the former England international said.
"Luis has come in and done great things for the club, but Lucas has been his equal in many ways.
"He has been as good as anyone in the team this season."
After an underwhelming start at Anfield Lucas has slowly emerged as an integral part of Kenny Dalglish’s side as they go in search of returning to the Champions League, and was named the Reds’ player of the season last term.
The former Gremio player, who arrived under Rafael Benitez in 2007, was the subject of much derision having failed to impress straight away, and Carragher believes it is a testament to Lucas’ strength that he has been able to win over the Liverpool faithful.
"I have been there in terms of receiving criticism," Carragher commented.
"High standards are expected when you play for one of the big clubs and there are plenty of examples of players who have gone missing after realising the demands on them.
"But you can tell he is a top player as he never let that bother him - he just got on with it and plays in nearly every game.
"If he has a little knock, he will always try and carry on, doing his best for us. There are lots of different characters but you can't fault Lucas."