Better late than never, Santos midfielder Lucas Lima is set to swap the Brazilian league for Barcelona in a career-defining move
Brazilian reports confirm that Santos play-maker Lucas Lima is joining Catalan giants FC Barcelona at the start of the new year, as his current contract with the Paulista side, is set to expire in December. Is La Liga the right destination for the Brazil international?
Lucas Lima has had a lot of ups and down with Santos. In 2015, the midfielder was arguably the best player in the Brazilian league. His sensational form earned him several Brazil call-ups under former national team manager Carlos Dunga. However, 2016 was the year when everything went wrong.
The 26-year-old fell into a feud with several Santos fans, who accused him of caring about a transfer to Europe more than he cares about the club. Lucas had openly expressed his desire to cross the Atlantic, before picking up a series of injuries which ruled him out for the majority of the Brazilian league that year.
Neymar on Lucas Lima: "He is a great friend in football and I am hoping that he comes to Barcelona. We would welcome him with open arms." pic.twitter.com/oC638e5FOi
— Squawka News (@SquawkaNews) June 23, 2017
But in 2017, the midfield maestro seems to have rediscovered his best form. In five games in Copa Libertadores, Lucas has provided five assists, playing a fundamental role in guiding Santos to the knockout phases of South America’s most prestigious competition. It has been a couple of years since the team has gone so far in the tournament. Without the brilliance of Lima, the mission would have been far more difficult.
On a usual day, Lucas Lima is a midfield commander in all areas. Although the Santos man occupies the number 10 position in the team’s 4-2-3-1 on paper, he practically roams all over the pitch, covering both flanks when necessary, but essentially dropping deep in order to receive the ball and build play.
Lima’s through-balls are most often Santos’ most deadly weapon and number one source of creativity to unlock deep-lying defenses. His passing quality is arguably the best among any active Brazilian midfielder. In terms of technical abilities, first touch, vision and close control, Lucas Lima has the characteristics to support his case for a Barcelona move.
However, the main challenge in Spain will be adapting to a league with a faster tempo. Lucas has the skills and the football intelligence, but there are question marks surrounding his athleticism and physical condition. The Brazil international is not aggressive enough, and has struggled with a lot of injury problems over the past few months. Whether he can keep up with the higher intensity in training sessions, without risking of aggravating his old injuries, remains to be seen.
Lucas Lima is one of the most exciting players in the Brazilian league. He has brought joy to the faces of Santos fans with his magical touch and strong performances in big games. If he decides to go to Barça, then it would be a big gamble in a World Cup season. But it is certainly a gamble that someone who refused several offers from China and low-tier Europeans clubs, should aim for. Lucas’ move to an European is long overdue, and finally, his patience is about to be rewarded.