Since arriving in the Eternal City, Lucas Leiva has revitalized his career and become the leader that Lazio so desperately needed.
Lazio have been searching for a true leader since Stefano Mauri left for Brescia. The Biancocelesti are not without players with tenure at the club, such as Senad Lulic and Stefan Radu, but no one commands his teammates on the field as Lucas does.
He was bought last summer for a bargain at €5.7 million from Liverpool and immediately became one of Simone Inzaghi’s favourites.
The 31-year-old was Lazio’s midfield anchor for the entirety of last season as the team pushed hard on all fronts. The team won the Supercoppa Italiana, reached the semi-finals of the Coppa Italia, made the quarter-finals of the Europa League, and narrowly missed out on fourth place from a loss on the final matchday.
This season has been tougher for Lucas as he suffered an injury against Marseille in October and reaggravated that same injury when he rushed back to play against Sassuolo the next month.
The Brazilian’s experience and ability to read the game while staying vocal has become a major asset to Simone Inzaghi. When he is available, Lazio regularly setup with him as the only holding midfielder but in his absence, Inzaghi has preferred to use two. This is a huge testament to what Lucas brings to the pitch and while he was injured Lazio struggled mightily to pull out results.
Lucas made his full return to the lineup when he started against Bologna on December 26 and thoroughly impressed, dispelling any doubts about his recovery.
Lazio will hope that Lucas’ return to the starting XI gets Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and Luis Alberto going offensively again as they will have more freedom to move forward and create knowing that the Brazilian will be there to clean up any messes.