The signing of Lucas Silva has been received with a sense of reservation that has become familiar around this time of year among Real Madrid fans. This is not so much a comment on the Brazilian’s potential as a player, but more on the accumulated disappointment caused by a series of failed mid-season incorporations made by the club in recent winters.
‘Tis the season to be weary for all Madrid fans who still shudder at the memory of Thomas Gravesen, whose most memorable moment at the club was an attack on teammate Antonio Cassano during a training session; Julien Faubert, who played a total of 60 minutes in a Real Madrid uniform and is mostly remembered for taking a nap on the substitutes’ bench during a match; Fernando Gago, who never justified his €20 million price tag; and Lucas Silva’s compatriot Cicinho, whose bright start at the club made his subsequent failure even more frustrating.
And while a few winter signings could possibly claim to have been useful to some degree – Jan Klaas Huntelaar, Emmanuel Adebayor and Lass Diarra – few managed to avoid leaving the club through the back door. Even the reliable Gonzalo Higuain and Diego Lopez, both of whom had relative success, were forced to leave the club in search of greater playing time and recognition. Left-back Marcelo, signed in the January transfer window of 2007, might be the sole representative of this group in the last decade or so to give Madrid fans any hope that Lucas Silva could shake off the winter curse and become a real success.
The Brazilian midfielder was formally presented as a Real Madrid player in typical winter anonymity on Monday. Following a brief period of courtship that had seemingly died down, the club’s interest in the player was rekindled by their recent poor form. A mere 300 fans were there to welcome him at his formal presentation. Understandably for someone who has had so little international exposure, a large portion of them were his compatriots.
Shortly after the formalities had been concluded, the 21-year-old Brazilian, who will wear the No16 shirt for Madrid, was training alongside the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and his admired Toni Kroos. Of the German he said, “I am proud to play with him. I’ve watched him play for a long time. I’d like to follow in his footsteps and, who knows, perhaps play alongside him.”
Lucas’s admiration for the German star’s style of play may derive from its similarity to his own game. The Brazilian described himself as “a very technical player who holds his position in midfield”. He continued, “I distribute the ball well, have a good long distance pass and try to maintain the balance (in the team).”
The former Cruzeiro man, who has won the last two Brazilian Leagues and was voted best midfielder in the 2014 edition, could have added that he is an expert marker who recovers many possessions for his side and it would not have been at all misleading to claim he has one of the most powerful and precise shots in Brazilian football. Also, in line with Toni Kroos’s style, the Brazilian likes to keep things simple, often playing first time passes and rarely deviating from the wisest option. In addition, he provides a constant threat at set pieces.
Due to their similarity, rather than playing Lucas alongside Kroos, as the Brazilian suggests, it is quite possible that Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti plans to use his new player to allow Kroos some much needed rest.
With Modric on his way back from injury and Kroos stating on more than one occasion that he feels tired and is looking forward to the summer, Lucas Silva seems set to partner the little Croatian in midfield in the theoretically less demanding fixtures, leaving Kroos to star in the main duels that lie ahead.