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Friday, December 10, 2010

A BRAZILIAN MIDFIELD DEBATE – ANDERSON OR LUCAS?

Source

I was asked by the editor of our partner site The Busby Way, Chudi Onwuazor, about whether I thought midfielder Lucas was better than their Brazilian midfielder . Below is the analysis of both of our respective players.

( by Chudi)

Arrival - came to United with massive expectations and an equally big price tag. Hailed as the new Ronaldinho by those who had never seen him play before, that was already a huge weight of expectation on his young shoulders and in all honesty he hasn’t lived up to these expectations – yet.

’s time at Old Trafford has been tumultuous to say the least. He has put in some great performances against some of the country’s best midfielders spawning a song detailing him, Fabregas and something you might see in a Japanese skin flick.

Weaknesses – Those of us experiencing the highs of these performances were quickly brought down to earth in the Champions League final in 09 where he was made to look ordinary by Barcelona and their superstars but Xavi, Iniesta and co could have done that to most if not all and for me was all part of his learning curve.

For a young player his lack of consistency is no major concern, it happens but having already seen that he poses considerable talent I’m more interested in seeing him put together a strong run of appearances which he seems to be doing at the moment. He hasn’t been helped by injuries, supposed off field issues like the car crash this summer as well as uncertainty over his position but his attitude appears to be right and it is benefiting him as well as the team.

Strengths – has displayed his talent; he can pass, is very direct with his dribbling, is strong and can tackle. The only thing that is disappointing for me is his lack of goals, having only scored 3 (2 official) in his spell here is disappointing but as a player I feel he offers way more than Lucas, who to me is quite one-dimensional, and has a lot more to come.

Lucas

Arrival – In contrast to , Lucas was bought from for £6million, a small price compared to the amount that paid . The smaller fee didn’t necessarily dampen expectations though as he was the reigning Brazilian player of the year when he was purchased by . Having already made his debut for Brazil, being ’s captain as well as helping his team to the Copa Libertadores final, many felt that had got a bargain.

The first two seasons especially were very difficult for Lucas as he didn’t live up to expectations. The Anfield crowd got on his back and many questioned his continuing inclusion in the team. Unlike , who already had a spell in European football; with , Lucas came straight from the slower pace Brazilian league, into the rough and tumble of English football. He was used to having time on the ball but now in the Premier League, he found himself rushed, miss-timing tackles and regularly misplacing passes. Added to this, Rafa had decided to convert the player from an attacking midfielder, (similar to ) into a holding midfield player. It was a rocky transition which took years and has made it even more difficult for Lucas to settle in England.


Weaknesses – Unfairly touted as the replacement for in some quarters, his long range passing was nowhere near the standard of his former Spanish team-mate and he played a similar role in the team to , which frustrated many fans. With Alberto Aquilani either injured or ill for the majority of last season, Lucas was picked alongside Mascherano on many occasions, but the similarity in both player’s games, led to very defensive team without any supply to Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres further up the field. Out of the two, Lucas was the worst tackler and passer leading many to question why he was in the side at all. He was however still in transition from a more attacking midfield role, as at his time at he had been used to making forward runs and arriving late in the box to finish passing moves rather than holding the fort in midfield. Lucas however rallied by the end of last season and was rewarded with ’s young player of the year. Time in the English football has seen him develop as a player and he was gradually getting used to the holding midfield role.

Strengths – The transformation from Lucas in 2007 to Lucas in 2010 has been quite astonishing. No longer the butt of jokes by Reds fans and used as a scapegoat for every poor performance, he has evolved this season into becoming one of ’s most consistent performers. Much of this has to be credited to his mental strength for after years of being derided for his poor performances; he has never gone hiding on the pitch and has always looked to get on the ball. The departure of has seen the Brazilian step up to the plate as the Reds sole midfield destroyer. Not only is he tackling better and intercepting opposition attacks with aplomb, his pass completion stats are exceptional, and he barely gives a stray pass to team-mates. Many of the passes are short and square, but he has begun this season to be more expansive, passing forward rather than backwards. Two man of the match performances against Chelsea and Aston Villa have seen Lucas perform a remarkable turn around in regards to popularity among Reds fans. People want Lucas and Raul Meireles to be the first choice midfield partnership now; this time last season, they wouldn’t have wanted him anywhere near the first team squad, let alone the starting eleven.

Overall – Currently Lucas is a fair way ahead of in terms of developing his game. may have a good deal more natural ability than Lucas, but the high work ethic, strong mental character and solidity that Lucas gives his team, makes him, for me, the better player at the moment.

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Quote of the moment

Defying belief however, is a market Benitez has cornered quite well. The moment you think Benitez is clueless, he defies it by pulling off a result of majesty, like the one achieved in Madrid. The moment he is hailed a genius, he masterminds toothless surrender to a team going nowhere. In the ongoing Anfield power struggle, just when he was cornered by the firing squad, the Spaniard's demise at Liverpool looking practically assured with the ominous suspension of betting by the bookmakers, he squeezes out through a narrow trapdoor and eliminates Rick Parry. Rafa Benitez is Keyzer Soze.
- Just Football blog: The Curious Beast that is Football 28 Feb 2009