Lucas Leiva injured the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his left knee Tuesday and will require surgery to repair it. That rules the Liverpool midfielder out for the remainder of the season according to the club’s website.
He underwent a scan on the knee Wednesday and the results confirmed the club’s worst fears. An ACL injury often requires at least six months of recovery and Lucas’ will likely follow that timetable.
The news comes as a massive blow to the Reds’ hopes for a top-four finish. The holding midfielder was the club’s player of the season in 2010-11 and was well on his way to repeating the feat this term. He’s earned widespread and overdue acclaim for his tackling, work-rate and distribution and his injury leaves a gaping hole in the Reds’ midfield.
The Brazilian international made 15 appearances this season (12 in the English Premier League and three in Carling Cup) and was leading the EPL in tackles with 68 when he was sidelined.
The 24-year-old suffered the injury in the second half of Tuesday’s Carling Cup quarterfinal victory over Chelsea. In the 66th minute, he was making a challenge on Chelsea’s Juan Mata when he buckled awkwardly and fell to the ground clutching his knee.
He attempted to return to the game but immediately went back to the ground. Medical staff stretchered him off the field.
Jay Spearing, Jordan Henderson, Jonjo Shelvey and injured captain Steve Gerrard have been mentioned as possible like-for-like replacements for the Brazilian international, but the solution may not be so simple.
Lucas’ absence will likely force manager Kenny Dalglish to reshape both the structure and composition of the Liverpool midfield. The club may look to sign another midfielder during the January transfer window.