When the summer transfer window opens the future of many Paris Saint-Germain players will be decided. After yet another disappointing showing in the UEFA Champions League, there will be change at the Parc des Princes and Lucas Moura must be one of the players up for evaluation.
Lucas was signed for a whopping €45 million during the 2012-13 season by Nasser Al-Khelaifi, who was in search of a “new Messi” for the Qatar Sports Investments project as the real Messi refused to be swayed by PSG’s riches. Lucas’ transfer from São Paulo to Paris was the club’s most expensive signing at the time and great things were expected from the 20-year-old Brazilian. Fast forward three years and things haven’t gone as planned.
Lucas, who turns 24 in August, has failed to make an impression on the international stage with Brazil, starting only one match since his move to the French capital and falling out of favor with Dunga.
The last time the speedy winger was called up for an international tournament was the 2013 Confederations Cup, where he managed only two substitute appearances. Injuries have played a role in Lucas not meeting expectations but his low scoring return of 25 goals in all competitions since January 2013 sums up how much of a disappointment his time at the club has been.
To be fair to Lucas though, stats don’t exactly paint the most accurate picture as a number of his appearances were from the bench. He’s managed to record 27 assists in all competitions with PSG and his speed causes problems for defenders late in games when he is substituted on.
You can make the case that Laurent Blanc’s tactics do not favorite the fleet-footed attacker but Le President has given the Brazilian plenty of opportunity to prove himself since arriving at the Parc. Lucas has had three seasons with the manager, which should be enough time for the player to adapt, but despite showing flashes, this hasn’t been the case. Blanc had this to say last December:
We all want to play but when you’re on the pitch, I can tell you, you have to be good. It happens that you can mess up a match — we know that too. But if you look at Lucas’ stats, he’s played a lot of matches. You [the media] say he’s not playing but I can tell you that he’s played a lot of matches from the start. He’s a guy who we need to help and we will help him like I do with everyone. But we also have to face up to reality too. That’s our role as well.—Laurent Blanc
Lucas has managed to improve season-after-season but the problem is it’s been at a very slow rate. He has scored 12 goals compared to 8 last season but it’s nowhere near the level you’d expect from a player with his speed and price tag. Things appeared to be improving earlier in the season when the Brazilian featured in the starting lineup at the expense of Edinson Cavani. The attack didn’t reach Barcelona-levels of dominance but there was a clear improvement in terms of fluidity and cohesion in the team. The perfect example of this improvement was the 5-1 trouncing of Angers SCO last January. The newly promoted side boasted a solid defensive record in Ligue 1 and held PSG to a scoreless draw earlier in the previous meeting. Lucas scored a goal and was recorded a 8.9 rating according to whoscored.com.
Inconsistency and the inability to take games by the scruff of the neck have been a major problem for Lucas. His failure to consistently impress during his stint in the starting lineup most likely played a significant role in Blanc opting to start Cavani in the first leg of the tie against Manchester City in the Champions League. Not to say Blanc was spot on with his tactics, as the end result suggests otherwise, but there’s no assurance Lucas would have had more of an impact on the outcome of the tie.
It’s likely that Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Cavani could leave this summer, meaning PSG will most likely look to sign players capable of filling their roles with Lucas remaining in the substitute role next season. This makes it a perfect time for both PSG and Lucas to go their separate ways as another season from the bench won’t help his progression. I strongly believe Lucas has talent to succeed but realistically, he will fit it better with a more counter-attacking team like Borussia Dortmund, Tottenham Hotspur, or Liverpool, where his direct running and preference to play on instinct will come to the fore. With Lucas’ departure, Paris could benefit from signing the more dynamic Olympique Lyonnais attacker Nabil Fekir, who possess far greater potential than Lucas in that substitute role. There are some risks though. Fekir is coming off an ACL injury but I believe it’s a move QSI and Blanc must consider.
It will be hard for PSG to sell Lucas at a profit but with the player’s worth believed to be relatively close to the amount PSG spent on him according to transfermarkt.com, it would be good business to cash in while they can. However, keeping Lucas at Paris Saint-Germain wouldn’t be a bad idea but the club and player will have to consider their options to reach what’s best for both parties.
Photograph by FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images