Date: 20th January 2015 at 5:45pm
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Jamie Carragher says Brendan Rodgers cannot afford to let Lucas Leiva leave the club this month.

The Brazilian has been linked with the likes of Inter Milan, Napoli and most recently Atletico Madrid.

And the former Liverpool defender insists it would be foolish of Rodgers to allow the 28-year-old to leave, given the Reds record is so much more impressive when he is in the side.

Carragher explained on Monday Night Football: “He has had a big effect on the team and he’s got to stay there. There was talk of Inter Milan making a bid, or other clubs looking at him and I’m not sure how long he’s got left on his contract. He’s not only got to stay at the club but he’s also got to stay in the team because, at this moment, they are getting victories on the back of his performances.

“If we go back to Liverpool’s defeat at Crystal Palace, where we were really critical of them, we said things had to change.

“Liverpool are a different team this season, Steven Gerrard is the playmaker. They needed to get someone in midfield who could shield that defence, and from that day, in the following 10 league games, Lucas has been brought in.

“If you look at the stats, the influence he has made has been noticeable to say the least. The one game that stands out is the Manchester United game, not because of the 3-0 defeat but because it was the one game Lucas didn’t play. Brendan Rodgers made a few changes and brought his technical players back into the team.

“Gerrard is the playmaker and Lucas is completely different. He is a destructor in front of the defence and that’s what Liverpool needed.

“He’s always thinking defensively and is aware of what’s going on around him, telling players to fill in for him when he vacates an area. He hasn’t got the passing ability or range of Gerrard but he breaks up play, makes simple passes forward and initiates counter attacks.

“He was in midfield every time and, in the first half, Liverpool should have scored three or four goals on the break at Villa.

“That is what he has brought into the team, and the results have improved massively since his inclusion.”