Lucas Leiva, a used substitute against Middleborough may tell us something of his future. Will he be staying or will he be ploughing his trade elsewhere when the new season begins? Writes Sam May.
He was brought on in the 78th minute for Roberto Firmino, and was given a rapturous welcome by the relived to be 3-0 up faithful.
What was telling immediately though was James Milner went over to put the captain’s armband on Lucas and then gave him an affectionate embrace – one of well done mate, enjoy, were going to miss you. A sign that it was to be his first outing in the new 125-year anniversary kit, but his last at Anfield?
Prior to the usual end of season walk around after the final whistle we perhaps got the biggest hint though that Lucas had played his last game at Anfield. He was introduced to the waiting crowd and interviewed on the pitch due to his 10 years at the club. The longest serving member of the squad. The last of the Rafael Benítez era, and was presented with a memento “21”, his squad number, from Reds legend King Kenny.
Careful to avoid the do you think you will be here next year question? He was asked about his highs and lows, and about being a scouse Brazilian as one banner suggested in the Kop. Lucas answered it was just great to be part of it all – and the fact that both of his kids were Merseyside born, he felt more than at home in the city.
With one year left on his contract it’s usually the time to stick or twist with players in such situations. Jürgen Klopp may well have already told the 30-year-old he can go. He may even be the makeweight that brings Luan from Grêmio, meaning Lucas could return to his home club. If he goes, he leaves with the memory of the huge thank you he received yesterday, as one of Anfield’s own.