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Is Lucas Leiva nearing an Anfield exit?

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Lucas Leiva’s career seems to be drawing to a close. The  Brazilian has been on Merseyside for 8 years and is currently the club’s longest serving player. His departure would be one of mixed emotions.

Reports in the last few days of Lucas leaving Liverpool have indicated that the midfielder’s future lies away from the the the club he signed for in 2007 from Gremio. It would seem, with Lucas not featuring in the matchday squad that traveled to Stoke, that his injury-stunted career is drawing to an end.

Several reputable online publications have stated that the cause for the Lucas possibly leaving is the break down between the player and Brendan Rodgers. While I cannot find any evidence from sources close to the player this news doesn’t come as a surprise,

Rodgers’ history with managing the senior players and those who he inherited from Roy Hodgson, when he switched from Swansea, is not good. Just by the number of senior members of the team that departed after supposed clashes of interest with the Northern Irishman support my suspicions. Jamie Carragher, Pepe Reina and Daniel Agger all had issues with the top man at Liverpool. Here’s what the latter had to say:

“I left Liverpool because of Rodgers.”

“There was much distance between us, and for me it was just enough. I felt that he didn’t appreciate the things I could and contributed. When I feel that, then it’s time to move on.”

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“When you are a part of the starting eleven for several games in a row and the team have performed well, and you feel that you have played well, then you are left out of the team and don’t feel appreciated, it starts to get pray on your mind and you wonder.”

“Then at the same time you see the statistics from your game – which are so important all around the world of football – and you don’t understand why you weren’t used more often.”

The final quote especially is particularly interesting as it is very similar to that which is currently happening with Mamadou Sakho. It is well known and appreciated that the Frenchman is a highly skilled and highly competent defender. Also his statistics are superb. He was ranked third in the Premier League last season for passing accuracy among centre-backs. Yet, he isn’t favoured by Rodgers despite by a superior defender to both Martin Skrtel and Dejan Lovren.

It is also relevant to consider how Steven Gerrard – a living, breathing legend – was handled by Liverpool’s manager. The Scouse midfielder said that if he had been offered a contract sooner he would have loved to stay and signed without a second thought. However, the delay in being offered a renewal made him feel unwanted and thus spawned ideas of a move away. This lack of cohesion with senior players seems to be a theme throughout Rodgers’ term so far.

With the transfer window drawing to a close Lucas is considering his options. West Ham are said to be interested in the defensive midfielder on a permanent basis. The Brazilian has two years remaining on his contract and Liverpool value him at £8 million. This move would be ideal for him as it would mean he could remain in the Premier League and continue to compete at the highest level.

Featured image: All rights reserved by LFC Season 2015-2016

You can find the orignial article on Michael’s personal blog – Rousing the Kop

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Chelsea

Willian could hold key to Tottenham landing Anthony Martial

If Manchester United land the Brazilian it would undoubtedly improve Tottenham’s chances.

Jamie Watts

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Manchester United are reportedly preparing a £60 million bid to bring Chelsea winger Willian to Old Trafford this summer, according to reports from the Daily Mail, with manager Jose Mourinho having been linked with an approach for his former star for some time.

Chelsea were unwilling to sell at that time, but it is possible that Willian could be interested in a new challenge after apparently growing frustrated with life at Stamford Bridge, according to recent reports from Sky Sports. He managed a combined 25 goals and assists in 55 appearances in 2017/18, but only 20 of his 37 Premier League outings actually came as a starter.

Photo: Getty Images

Tottenham meanwhile, have become frustrated at United’s assertion that Anthony Martial will not be sold this summer (Sky Sports), after Mauricio Pochettino made the Frenchman his priority target last month (the Sun), as he looks to bolster the supply line to Harry Kane next term.

However, Martial’s revelation that he wants to leave the club could be vital for Spurs, as Mourinho has previously stated that he would never stop a player from moving if they really want the move and the money is right. And he’s backed up his words, selling two-time Chelsea Player of the Year Juan Mata to his current club in 2014.

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The Red Devils are currently stacked in terms of depth for the left wing, with Marcus Rashford struggling to start games over January signing Alexis Sanchez, but wide-right is somewhat scarce and Willian would undoubtedly improve United’s balance for the better.

Although the manager would prefer the Frenchman went abroad, if he asked for the move to north London, Willian’s transfer to United would undoubtedly improve Pochettino’s chances of securing his key man. United will also be buoyed by their recent business with the west Londoners, having surprisingly secured the signing of Nemanja Matic from Stamford Bridge last summer.

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Everton

Gylfi Sigurdsson shows why Everton splashed £45m on his services

Everton fans will hope they see Sigurdsson in fine form next season.

Mathew Nash

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Iceland pulled off another shock at a major tournament, as they managed to hold out for a draw against Argentina. Alfred Finnbogason scored the equaliser after Sergio Aguero had given the Albiceleste the lead. Lionel Messi then saw a penalty saved as Iceland fully deserved a share of the spoils.

One man who was in sensational form throughout the game was Everton midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson. Only recently returned from a knee injury he was the beacon of quality that Iceland needed. When they needed a player to keep possession he was there and he was a constant thorn in the side of Argentina’s defensive generals.

It was a performance that will remind Everton fans just why they spent £45 million to bring him from Swansea City last summer. It also highlighted that, used correctly. The ‘Iceman’ could be Everton’s talisman.

(Photo by Lynne Cameron/Getty Images)

When Sigurdsson arrived last season he did so at the same time as two identical players. Davy Klaassen and Wayne Rooney also joined Everton last summer leaving them overbooked in that area of the field.

With Everton failing to bring in sufficient wide options, Sigurdsson also found himself playing wide left for much of his time at Goodison Park.

What is clear from the Iceland game is that Sigurdsson is best in the number 10 role, playing off of the front-man and hopefully next season that is where Everton will see him. With Cenk Tosun ahead of him, pace out wide and reliable generals behind him in midfield the Icelander will be free to roam and play his best football.

If Everton do that, then they will see more and more of the real Sigurdsson next season.

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Manchester United

Chicharito shows he’s capable of replacing Marko Arnautovic at West Ham in brilliant Mexico performance

The striker was unrecognisable from last season at West Ham.

Jamie Watts

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West Ham United striker Marko Arnautovic is still heavily linked with a move to Manchester United, although the club have attempted to deter interest by slapping a whopping £60 million price tag on the Austrian, according to the Daily Star.

Although the price is considerable, it’s conceivable United could match the fee, or something close and Manuel Pellegrini may have to begin lining up replacements, in case a switch to Old Trafford materialises. But the Chilean coach may very well have his man already on yesterday’s evidence, ironically, in the form of former United fan favourite, Chicharito.

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Chicharito made a name for himself throughout his career for his impressive ability to improvise a finish in the penalty area, and his movement, which has led to countless poacher goals. However, his performance for Mexico yesterday could indicate a change of responsibilities for the striker in the future. And West Ham will be thrilled.

Against Germany, he did everything but put the ball away. Non-initiated viewers may have been shocked to find out that the striker went into the match one goal off a career tally of 50 for his country, as he plied for the 90 minutes as a forward linch-pin, connecting play in the final third for almost every counter-attack. His general touch, awareness of approaching defenders, vision to see runners and execution of passes were all sensational on the night.

Photo: Getty Images

It could be argued that his national pride conjured this new style. but now there can be no doubting he has the ability to play the Arnautovic-type role, and in emphatic fashion. And if Pellegrini can tap-into this style, he could already have the Austrian’s ready made replacement at the London Stadium.

Last term the 30-year-old struggled to break into the team on a regular basis under David Moyes, making 33 appearances in all competitions, bagging eight goals and an assist, but his contribution next year could be far more valuable.

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