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Mercato Madness: Napoli Looking at Lucas Leiva Loan from Liverpool

With a clear desire for a holding midfielder, Napoli have turned their gaze to Liverpool's Lucas Leiva to fill the void.

Mark Thompson

If there's one thing that's been obvious about Napoli's goals this summer, it's that they want another midfielder to add to the rotation. First, they went after Javier Mascherano, but he elected to stay at Barcelona after talking to his new manager. Then came a hard and heavy pursuit of Maxime Gonalons... which the player rejected when a deal was all but done.

Now with their options slowly starting to narrow, Rafa Benitez is looking to his past and Napoli are looking at bringing in Liverpool's Lucas Leiva. The Brazilian international was widely considered one of England's most dominating holding midfielders just two and a half years ago, but a pair of serious knee injuries set his career back quite a ways.

Lucas is still a fan favorite at Anfield, but with Liverpool playing Steven Gerrard as an unorthodox defensive mid and having just bought Emre Can from Bayer Leverkusen, it's starting to look like there's no immediate place for him on Merseyside. Fortunately, a certain former manager who once showed Lucas an endless well of faith and support to kickstart his career is looking for exactly the kind of player he is.

There's a lot of reasons to like this move. First and foremost, Rafa knows Lucas better than probably any other manager around, and if anyone can get him back to his best, he's the one to do it. Second, making the deal a loan as Gianluca Di Marzio is reporting makes bringing in Lucas a low-risk, high-reward signing for the upcoming season. If he gets hurt again or is poor again, Napoli have other options to fill the gap and he can go back to Liverpool with nothing but some sad memories behind him. Lucas' play style is also a gorgeous fit for Serie A, as his work as a defensive mid is focused more on the tactical and technical aspects of the position rather than just running around trying to blow people up like the "typical English DM" archetype many English fans seem to prefer.

While this is definitely a rumor in the early stages of its life, there is a fair bit of reason to think it has legs. Liverpool and Napoli seem to have a fair relationship after the Pepe Reina loan, and Rafa and Lucas have a tremendous relationship after their time working together at Anfield. Everything seems well-aligned for this deal to happen, and with both clubs kicking off their preseasons in the coming weeks, this could move fast if it starts to develop past an exploratory phase.

As a bonus, enjoy this footage of Lucas roping a cow on his ranch in Brazil, because that's a thing that happens: