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Why Lucas Leiva's time is up at Liverpool

Liverpool's overcrowded midfield ranks has left Lucas Leiva on the fringes at Anfield - and it appears, even the Brazilian may have accepted his fate.

The holding midfielder has been repeatedly linked with a move to Napoli to reunite with former boss Rafael Benitez - the coach who brought him to Anfield back in the summer of 2007.

Asked about a potential reunion with the Spaniard in Italy, Lucas reportedly said: "I can never say never. Today my thoughts are with Liverpool and I always leave that part of the proposals and boring affairs with my manager.

"If something good for me arises for me and the club, it might happen. But now I'm focused on having a good season for Liverpool."

Lucas was a surprise starter for Brendan Rodgers' side as they beat Southampton 2-1 on Sunday, but it was only when he was replaced for Joe Allen in the second half that the Reds began to show any urgency in the midfield area.

Slow and ponderous, the Brazilian seems to be out of kilter with Rodgers' dynamic system that tries to get the ball to the likes of Raheem Sterling and Daniel Sturridge through midfield as quickly as possible.

The signing of Emre Can from Bayer Leverkusen for £10 million has only increased competition for places at Anfield, and the young German looks purpose-built for the rough terrain of the Premier League's engine room.

Steven Gerrard's conversion to a holding midfielder last term has seen Lucas drop out of the first team, and the former Brazil international won't overhaul the Reds skipper, and as Rodgers surveys the rest of his midfield ranks, it appears unlikely the 27-year-old will be able to adapt to any other role in the same way Allen and Jordan Henderson have.

Their high-intensity pressing and ability to feed the forwards is a way of playing that Lucas would perhaps be unsuited to, and the former Gremio star would appear to be the odd one out this season.

Rodgers started with a 4-3-3 formation against the Saints, but switched to the diamond in the second half once Rickie Lambert was introduced and Liverpool's heavy investment have given them a much stronger look this season.

And as Lucas surveys the midfield landscape, and looks around at the likes of Henderson, Allen, Gerrard, Can, Philippe Coutinho and Adam Lallana, he may feel that the grass is greener in Naples with Benitez.

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