For many years, Lucas Leiva has been Liverpool’s unsung hero. His ability to prevent opposition attacks from developing is often overlooked.
The Brazil international made his debut for the club in 2007 and was initially scrutinised by the Anfield faithful.
The midfielder has gone on to make 289 appearances for Liverpool in all competitions, and in the past six seasons has led the Premier League for tackles made.
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The Brazilian was voted by fans ‘Young Player of the Season’ for 2009-10 following the departure of Xabi Alonso and was held in high regard by ex-boss Rafael Benitez.
Since Benitez's departure, Lucas has struggled to recapture the form which earned him a place in the fans' hearts.
Under Roy Hodgson and Kenny Dalglish the midfielder was plagued by injuries, whilst the recently dismissed Brendan Rodgers opted to play Joe Allen, Emre Can and even Steven Gerrard in the side's holding role.
Since Jurgen Klopp has taken charge at Anfield, Lucas has been the lynchpin and arguably the main cause of Liverpool’s recent success.
The 28-year-old has made 58 tackles in domestic football and ranks second for the most tackles successfully made throughout Europe.
The importance of defensive midfielders has been displayed more so in the last week than at any other stage this season.
Manchester City suffered an embarrassing 4-1 defeat at the Etihad to Lucas and co due to the absence of the hounding Fernandinho. Meanwhile, Arsenal lost 2-1 away to West Bromwich Albion after Francis Coquelin left the pitch with a knee injury.
Klopp has rejuvenated Lucas and fans are beginning to see glimpses of the player they deemed deserving of an award in 2010.
Fans have been calling for Liverpool to invest in a defensive midfielder since the club threw away the Premier League title in 2014.
However, it seems that Klopp’s preference of improving current players over new purchases leaves no reason to invest. If Lucas maintains his form, Liverpool could finish in the top four.
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