Brendan Rodgers says Lucas Leiva will be staying at Liverpool until the summer at least, despite reported interest from Italy.
Rafael Benitez at Napoli and Roberto Mancini at Inter Milan have both been consistently linked with an £8million move for the 28-year-old, who has been a key part of Liverpool’s progression in recent weeks.
Liverpool are unbeaten in the last 12 matches in which Lucas has started – the 1-0 defeat to Real Madrid in the Bernabeu was the last time the Reds lost a game in which the Brazilian was in from the start – and Rodgers issues a hands off warning at his pre match press conference yesterday.
“No, he is not one that we would want to lose in January,” said Rodgers. “There will be speculation over the course of the month on a lot of players. It is not something I would be willing to do in January. Of course at the end of the season everything is looked at again but the team is in a good momentum.”
Rodgers said he had spoken to Lucas about his future but confirmed the club had not received any bids for him: “We have had nothing from them (Inter). I think he’s just enjoying playing and he’s playing very well.”
Lucas has been key to the Reds recent upturn in form, thriving in a new 3-4-2-1 formation, and Rodgers says he sees no reason to disrupt his side at present.
“The team is in a good flow, we are starting to find our feet and players are starting to adapt and work really well so I don’t need to disrupt them,” he said.
“The two central midfielders have been vital for us because it requires a lot of work for the two of them. It requires Jordan (Henderson) and Lucas or whoever is in there having to fan out to wide areas of the field to block, while others were covering, so him and Jordan were outstanding last week. That gives the flair and creative players the chance to play”.
Lucas lost his place during the second half of last season, which led to many believing his future was away from Anfield.
However Rodgers insists the Brazilian was simply unfortunate last term with the way in which the team was set up.
“It was just the set up of the team,” said Rodgers.
“Last year we were a team that was set up with a playmaker from behind. We never played with a defensive midfielder really and we played with a playmaker. Steven (Gerrard) was called a defensive one but that wasn’t the case.
“We had fast players running behind that needed to play off longer passes so we played him there. In advance of that we had two midfield players who could go and join in.
“When we flipped to a diamond, it was a similar idea, start the game from behind.
“When you move system and change, not the style, but the system it of course requires different things and when you need a defensive midfielder, he (Lucas) has come in and done that.”