Date: 12th January 2015 at 9:08pm
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Whilst Brendan Rodgers maintains the backing of the majority of Liverpool fans, the area in which he has let himself down is in the transfer market.

Although summer signings the likes of Adam Lallana, Emre Can and Lazar Markovic have been showing signs of steady improvement of late, a lot of the players he has brought in have been questionable to say the least.

But personally, my biggest gripe with the Liverpool boss is to do with the players he has allowed to leave the club during his tenure.

Whilst he may not have had much of a choice in the Luis Suarez to Barcelona situation, Pepe Reina, Daniel Agger and even Andy Carroll are all departures I have not been able to get my head around.

Replacing Reina with Simon Mignolet, Agger with Dejan Lovren and ultimately Carroll with Iago Aspas and Rickie Lambert – is just ridiculous business.

And with Steven Gerrard set to become the next big name to depart Anfield at the end of the season, it is absolutely critical for me that Rodgers resists the advances of Inter Milan, and keeps Lucas Leiva at the club this winter.

Gerrard, Lucas, the injured Glen Johnson and Martin Skrtel are now the only players left from the era prior to the Fenway Sports takeover – a fact that illustrates just how busy the American owners have been since their takeover in 2010.

Whilst the Brazilian may be the least high profile of those four, he has shown this season he remains absolutley vital to Liverpool.

After early season starts against Southampton and West Ham (he was substituted on both occasions), it looked for all the world as though Lucas was surplus to requirements at Anfield.

He was restricted to Capital One Cup appearances, and was impressive in the 2-1 win over Swansea at Anfield in October. He was also outstanding in the 1-0 defeat at Real Madrid a week later, a game in which Rodgers was heavily criticised for fielding a weakened team.

Yet he was back on the bench for the defeats that followed against Chelsea and Crystal Palace, a fact that suggested Lucas was to be cruelly cast to the Anfield scrap-heap.

Yet he was back in the side for the 2-2 draw against Ludogorets, a match in which Rodgers claimed ‘was the start of our season.’

Since then, Lucas has only been left out of the side for the game against Manchester United at Old Trafford – the only game that Liverpool have lost in their last 13.

That fact underlines just how important and under-valued his performances have been for the Reds this season.

A closer look at the stats reveal how Liverpool’s record with Lucas in the side is in fact far more impressive than that without.

In the 17 matches Lucas has started this season, Liverpool have won ten, drawn five and lost two.

In the 14 matches without him from the start, Liverpool have won four (in which two of those he appeared as a substitute), drawn two and lost eight.

Are these statistics a coincidence? Doesn’t seem like it.

Lucas was outstanding at Sunderland on Saturday, and was typically overlooked for man of the match as the attacking talents stole the headlines.

That has been very much the story of his Liverpool career.

Yes, injury has robbed him of that yard of pace, and he is not the player he was in 2010 and 2011 – when he was at the peak of his powers.

He offers very little going forward, but his tactical intelligence, his leadership and comittment and the fact he is so well respected by his teammates on and off the pitch make him a key part of his Liverpool side.

The way in which he screamed at Mario Balotelli for losing possession casually in a dangerous position during the recent cup win at Wimbledon was a further reminder of the passion he has for the club – as well as pointing out he is one of the few players in this Liverpool squad capable of delivering a rollicking when required.

Brendan Rodgers has slowly started to get things back on track, and whilst many may point to the introduction of the 3-4-3 formation he has deployed – it is no coincidence the Reds are in fact unbeaten since Lucas was restored to the side on the night in Ludogorets when Rodgers claimed Liverpool’s season needed to properly start.

A couple of bad results – a cup exit or a Premier League defeat to widen the gap in the race for fourth – and Rodgers could well find himself under pressure again.

Stats rarely lie, and Liverpool’s record with and without Lucas this season indicates the 28-year-old should be considered one of the very first names on the teamsheet.

Whilst Inter Milan have registered an interest, it is crucial Rodgers and the club resist any offers. Anything else could well be managerial suicide for the Liverpool boss at a time when things are so finely balanced.