It was inevitable, with nearly eye-rolling predictability. For good or ill, this is a rumor that was always going to crop back up this month. Napoli are being linked, once again, with a move for Liverpool midfielder Lucas Leiva.
Go ahead and get all the laughter out. It'll do you good. Done? Good.
Lucas has been pursued by Inter Milan all winter long, until Liverpool's demands for a €9 million fee instead of a loan with purchase option seemed to scare them towards other options. Since no player's exit rumors can ever truly go away, that means another club has to take up the mantle, and why not have it be Napoli since he was supposed to be going there all summer long.
La Gazzetta is claiming that Napoli feel an "urgent" need for "a pawn" in midfield after Sunday's shaky performance. Of course, if Napoli had actually played a more functional midfield pairing that wasn't two straight defensive midfielders, they'd have been much better off (more on that later today), and Lucas doesn't help that. Lucas does many things well, but he doesn't have playmaking nous, and if Napoli are going to add another pivot midfielder, that's what they need.
Plus, there's this minor, niggling detail: Lucas has been Liverpool's best defensive midfielder for the past couple of months, and arguably their most on-form midfielder in general in that time. Why on earth would they get rid of him, especially with the only clear like-for-like replacement in their squad needed at center back for the foreseeable future thanks to injuries and a change in formation?
Liverpool supposedly won't sell Lucas without "replacing" him with Aston Villa's Fabian Delph first, but Delph isn't a ball-winning midfielder like Lucas is, he's more of a box-to-box type like Jordan Henderson. He'd let Liverpool keep the same number of midfielders around, but he wouldn't replace Lucas' functionality at all (in point of fact, he's terrible in a more defensive role), so why would Liverpool dump Lucas?
More than that, why would Napoli want him, beyond the Rafa Benitez connection? There's no sense anywhere in this rumor, as per usual with this time of year. If this happens, it will be a shocking and mystifying event to try and figure out.