Rafa Benitez has asked Liverpool about the availability of Lucas Leiva according to reports on Thursday morning.
Liverpool’s current longest-serving first team player, brought to Anfield by Rafa, and now a reunion is claimed to be on the cards.
Still only 30, the combative midfielder made 31 first team appearances last season for Liverpool, including 24 in the Premier League – 12 as a starter and 12 as a sub.
The Northern Echo report that Newcastle have approached Liverpool about the midfielder who can also play centre-back, with the scousers set to let the player go this summer.
A transfer fee of around £5m is speculated and this is what Rafa Benitez paid 10 years ago for a player who has given great service to Liverpool, since arriving from Gremio in his home country and is the typical kind of player Rafa Benitez likes to see in his central midfield pairing.
There have been claims that Lucas Leiva might return to Brazil to play club football but surely he will want to play at least a few more years at a higher level, plus no Brazilian club would be likely to get close to his Premier League wages.
That of course is a hurdle for Newcastle as well, this morning they were also linked with Chris Smalling who looks on his way out of Manchester United this summer, to sign the likes of Leiva and/or Smalling would see Newcastle accepting they have to pay the going rate in wages for Premier League experience.
Only a month after taking over at Newcastle United, Rafa Benitez returned to Anfield in April 2016.
United went two down and looked set for a thrashing, only for Cisse and Colback to score second-half goals and rescue a point. Sadly not proving enough in that eventual relegation fighting outcome.
Lucas Leiva played for three years under Rafa Benitez at Anfield, making over 100 appearances in that time, and in the lead up to that 2-2 draw in April 2016, Lucas spoke about his old boss to Sky Sports:
“I have no doubt that he will get a very good reception.
“He was very successful here and the fans appreciate what he did for the club.
“For me, it will be very special to meet him again because he was the manager who brought me here and who helped me a lot, especially in my first two seasons – so I will always be grateful.”
We have already seen Rafa linked with Pepe Reina and whilst it is maybe an easy call for the media to link the Spaniard with players he has previously worked with, at the same time you can imagine the Newcastle boss being keen on looking at players he knows he can trust – based on past experience.
A lot of people have made comment on the lack of previous Premier League experience throughout the Newcastle squad and players of Lucas Leiva’s level would be credible signings, not least because of their ability as well.
Not that you would imagine any special favours but one of the benefits of having somebody of the quality/experience of Rafa Benitez, is that any dealings with Liverpool (as we have already seen with Chelsea – the Atsu loan and permanent signing, as well other players possibly under consideration from the West London club) would surely be helped by Rafa’s relationship with his past club(s).
With over 20 caps for Brazil it indicates the midfielder’s quality, although the last of those appearances was back in 2013.