Signed from Grêmio in 2007, Lucas was a highly rated box to box midfielder. At 20 he had grit unseen in the prototypical Brazilian midfielder. That being said, he was still a 20 year old Brazillian midfielder. Lucas drew criticism quickly upon his arrival to Liverpool for lacking the physicality most Scousers had come to expect.
Brazilians had never made their mark in the Northwest, but Lucas was determined. He kept his head down and continued to graft whenever called upon by manager Rafa Benitez. While his first year at the club was by no means a smashing success, Lucas would become the first Brazilian to score for Liverpool.
The midfielder wasn’t done any favors by the quality of those he’d deputize for. It was a common occurrence at Anfield to hear chants of, “We have the best midfield in the world,” and with prime Steven Gerrard, Xabi Alonso, and Javier Mascherano, it wasn’t too much of a stretch. Benitez stuck with his Brazilian, though, and eventually Lucas began to shift less from a creative midfielder to the destroyer he is today. It took a while, but by 2010 Lucas cemented himself in the side (even being elected player of the month in December).
Lucas engendered himself to fans first with a base of solid performances anchoring the midfield, but eventually won over the majority of those in the stands through his quiet determination. Through 3 years of stick, Lucas steadily improved and made his way to being named Liverpool’s player of the year in 2011 and getting the reward of a long term contract.
His torrid form continued in the early months of the 2011 season, putting in league-leading numbers in the middle of the park. At various points in the season, Lucas lead the league in tackles, interceptions, and aerial duels won (shocking for the 5’10” Brazilian once deemed too frail for the rigors of a proper English midfield). Lucas had gone from outcast to fan favourite.
Unfortunately, Lucas suffered an ACL injury midway through the 2011 season in an FA Cup semifinal with Chelsea after a crash into Juan Mata. Lucas would miss the remainder of the season. Perhaps it was no surprise that Liverpool’s league form plummeted after his withdrawal. Liverpool lost the momentum from the first half of their season and ended up finishing a disappointing 8th.
Lucas would go on to feature heavily in both the 2011-12 season and the 2012-13 season, but rumors of his departure started to grow. With the acquisition of Emre Can and the emergence of Jordan Henderson as a premier holding midfielder, a now-aging Lucas was beginning to be seen as surplus to requirements. While nothing would come of these rumors, 2013-14 was a marker for the Brazilian. Lucas would never start more games in red than this season.
Under Jurgen Klopp, the diminutive Brazillian would find himself deployed more often than not as a centerhalf. While prone to the occasional goal-gifting gaff, Lucas continued his quiet determination and continued to put in shift after shift.
As this 2017 season continues the acrimonious swirl into ending, Lucas’s time at Liverpool may also be coming to an end. If you’d told many a Kopite that Lucas would leave the club with many clamoring for a testimonial you’d have been laughed out of the bar, but Lucas forced his way into the collective hearts of Liverpool fans. A number of internet videos put out by Liverpool FC aided in Lucas’s ascension from gritty workman to cult hero. His quirky catchphrase (“Unlakeee”) and his hardnosed interaction with fans on Twitter proved that he had truly become a Wool.
Lucas’s time in red was not the most lucrative: the club would only collect one League Cup during Lucas’s stay up to present. The club was more often a bridesmaid than a bride. Lucas, however, put in a number of heroic and memorable performances in cup finals the years across. Likewise, he will always be remembered for his accumulation of yellow cards and transition from undersized goat to proper Scouse hard-man.
A slightly preemptive video, but still good. (Headphone warning)
With his determination and up-beat attitude, it would be a crying shame to see Lucas eventually leave for greener Milanese pastures without a testimonial.