Lucas Leiva may have played his last game for the club with reports suggesting he will leave Anfield before the transfer window shuts at the end of this month.
The popular Brazilian failed to even make the 18 man squad for the 1-0 win at Stoke on Sunday and his relationship with manager Brendan Rodgers has been steadily deteriorating over the last 18 months. The player has been unhappy for some time and was looking to leave the club last summer, but interest from Italian clubs failed to materialise into a firm offer so he stayed, albeit reluctantly. Now he may become the next player to leave the team in this 2015-16 season.
He almost left in January too following interest from Inter Milan and with things finally having seemingly now come to a head with Lucas wanting to leave and Liverpool reportedly ‘happy to listen to offers’, the odds on him remaining at Anfield beyond this summer appear to be lengthening by the day.
For some this will provide another stick to beat Rodgers with, but if the Northern Irishman sees the highly promising Emre Can as the long term option for that third midfield spot alongside Jordan Henderson and James Milner then surely that’s understandable? He may be happy to have Lucas in the squad as a back up option but if the player is not willing to accept that role then there’s little a manager can do.
No-one is to blame here as it’s a fairly simple situation. Lucas believes he should be first choice and be in the team every week while Rodgers sees things differently and prefers other players.
At 28 years of age Lucas does not want to be a back up player and in many ways that’s commendable as there are far too many footballers these days happy to pick up wages without earning them. If only Mario Balotelli, Fabio Borini and Jose Enrique had his desire to play football every week.
Lucas wants to play football but that’s not going to happen for him at Liverpool barring a midfield injury crisis, so therefore the most logical conclusion is him moving on to a club that see him as first choice. It’s no different to Jay Spearing, Jonjo Shelvey or Charlie Adam leaving. The profile and level of Lucas is obviously higher, but the basic principle is the same. All would prefer to play elsewhere than sit on the bench here.
Some players are happy enough to be squad men, others want to play every week and will not hang around if they aren't. If Lucas has had enough of not being a guaranteed starter then it’s best for all parties if he moves on.
It may also present more opportunities to promising teenager Jordan Rossiter, particularly in the Europa League for example.