Liverpool legend and now-ESPN FC pundit Steve Nicol has urged manager Brendan Rodgers to keep Lucas Leiva at Anfield, amid reports that the Brazilian midfielder is looking to leave the club following rumoured interest from Inter Milan.
According to ESPN FC, Lucas feels undervalued at the club after being jettisoned from the first-team earlier this season, and his November recall has done little to change his mind.
Speaking to the website, Nicol can understand the claimed reasons for him wanting a move but, at the same time, believes his potential departure would be a disaster for Rodgers ahead of Steven Gerrard’s summer exit.
“I’d have to agree [he’s undervalued],” the former defender said. “I think particularly last season I felt he was shunned a little bit.
“But of course, with Steven Gerrard leaving, for me he becomes a really important part for Liverpool.
“You take Gerrard away and there really isn’t enough experience in the middle of the park.
“This is a big, big decision for Brendan Rodgers. He has to make sure that Lucas Leiva doesn’t leave.”
Lucas, 28, was on the fringes of the Liverpool first-team at the start of the season, but has since become a core reason for the club’s recent revival after breaking back into the line-up in November.
With the Reds having few other defensive-minded options in midfield, allowing the 24-times capped international to leave in the coming weeks would seem like a grave error given he has performed so far this winter, and most fans would argue that Rodgers has to balk at whatever offers come in for his signature.
Capable replacements could be found in the summer but, for now, keeping Lucas at the club seems essential to their hopes of claiming a top-four finish this season.