The drums have been beating his name for a while now and now Chelsea have reportedly bid for this 19 year old Brazilian. Here's why...
Seven months ago Lucas didn’t own even the name on his shirt – people called him Marcelinho because he looks like another Brazilian icon. Now his long distance shots and Carnaval dribbles have gotten the heart of every Sao Paulo FC’s fan.
It was Lucas first derby for Sao Paulo, playing Palmeiras. Actually it was his first game ever – until the week before the 18-year-old was called Marcelinho, due to his physical similarities with a midfielder who had all his success at archrivals Corinthians. September 19th 2010. Sao Paulo’s goalie sends the ball away. A couple of headers. And on the edge of the area he hits the ball hard with an incredible volley - Brazil's 2002 world cup winning goalkeeper Marcos barely moved. Good riddance, Marcelinho. Hello, Lucas. Or, as sportsmen said then, “a new Rivelino” was born.
Footballing life wasn’t easy on Lucas until then. He started his career at Corinthians, the club that gave him the nickname. After scoring dozens of goals in the academy, Sao Paulo offered him a US$ 200.000 deal when he was 15. He and his family had their loyalties questioned for weeks until he decided to leave. A lot of resentment was left between Corinthians and Sao Paulo. But after that derby against Palmeiras, Lucas really didn't care anymore. He was more busy scoring goals, dribbling and making important assists. The Selecao couldn’t wait.
In December, after becoming one of the rookies of the season in the Brazilian Championship, he was called to be number 10 at the South American tournament that decided who would take spots at the London Olympics. Already known in Europe, Neymar didn’t disappoint and scored nine goals in the competition. But he had to share the limelight with right-footed Lucas, who scored a hat-trick in the 6-0 win over Uruguay in the final in Peru. Six months after his first game with his new name, Brazil coach Mano Menezes called him to play Scotland in Emirates Stadium. He didn’t play long, but it is now sure he is in the plans of many people.
Barcelona and Inter Milan scouts phoned their bosses over him. And now Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur are being heavily linked. The amount they accept paying is rated in 20 million pounds. Not enough, Sao Paulo says. “We let Kaka go for no more than 9 million euros years ago”, argues director Joao Paulo de Jesus Lopes. “That was peanuts for AC Milan. And peanuts are much more expensive to get nowadays.” The Brazilian club has a contract with Lucas until the end of 2015.
He is a fine crosser of the ball and he takes free-kicks well – in Sao Paulo he doesn’t have the chance to do it more often because of goalie Rogerio Ceni, captain and the scorer of more than 100 goals for the club. He is a midfielder, though he does rather well up in the front. Not good with headers and with defensive roles, he would learn a lot at Chelsea.
Any European team that wants to have him could do it right away for 80 million euros. It is believed Sao Paulo will gladly accept half of that, unless someone pays more than 40 million euros on Neymar. The face-off between them is real. In the sidelines, they make themselves bets to see who scores the most goals. Lucas is now playing Sao Paulo State championship and Neymar is in the prestigious Libertadores Cup. The best comparison between them will arise in the beginning of the Brazilian Championship, by the end of May.
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