Lucas Moura 21 Midfielder PSG Brazil
2013 has been…
Frustrating. The move to PSG was always going to bring a weight of expectation and we did say in his report last year that this may be his biggest battle over the next 12 months, but we had hoped for better. It may not all be his fault (and we’ll get on to that below) but the simple fact is that this year has been a bit of a struggle.
Having joined PSG in January after a transfer that drew out for far too long in the summer, the spotlight was always going to be one of the brightest in European football. At times under Ancelotti he looked sparkling, the panna machine turned all the way to eleven, but he would disappear from games after a bright start or offer nothing more than a cameo in others. In his fourteen appearances for his new club in the second half of the 2012/13 season, admittedly plotted in and amongst injuries and a forced recovery with an eye to his international summer, he only completed a full ninety-minutes three times.
Internationally his star has also faded a little. The player once tipped to shine as bright as Neymar began the year as a substitute for Brazil, often given little time to make an impact and seeing only half an hour’s action in their victorious Confederations Cup in the summer. He has found himself in and out of recent squads, a position he needs to rectify in a World Cup year quickly, and as ever the single biggest problem cited with him is a lack of consistency.
This season has been equally as frustrating as Laurent Blanc has moved from Ancelotti’s fit-‘em-all-in 4-2-2-2 to a more stylised 4-3-3. This has forced Lucas to play in a position he’s not very comfortable with (yet) and again the inconsistency that has dogged his career is in evidence. Really good displays marked with moments that make the jaw drop are often followed up by performances that have offered little more than the odd mazy run with no end product. Chances in the first team are limited with the superstars ahead of him at PSG and the Scrooge McDuck-style vault door still ajar if more are required, but he is now featuring both off the bench and as a starter regularly and he must take the opportunities as and when they come. The inconsistency and the genius are still there in equal measure, which one will win out in the end?
The peaks and troughs are so marked with Lucas it’s almost impossible to know just how good he could be. It’s no exaggeration to say he’s really, really special, he can do things with a football at 21 that most footballers can only aspire to throughout the length of their entire career, but he must move away from being the ultimate YouTube footballer (watch a three minute highlights montage and come away not thinking you’ve just seen something unbelievable) and find a level he can achieve week in and week out.
Along with the perpetual inconsistency there are the rumours and rumblings of unhappiness in France at his position in the squad, a lack of effort in training at times and the tell-tell headlines linking him to any club who showed an interest pre-PSG (Manchester United in particular keep coming up). His agent Wagner Ribeiro worked extremely hard to get him the move to France in the circumstances he wanted, specifically being allowed to see the year out with Sao Paulo via a loan, and is no stranger in aiding his clients if he feels they are being marginalised in any way. If his client is really unhappy you can expect to hear about it very soon.
The January transfer window will be interesting but if we were betting people we would suggest that the rumours of a loan somewhere to reignite his international hopes are wishful thinking. He is getting minutes on the pitch and will finish the year with far more game time in his second season in Europe than his first already, plus reports say he has recently moved into a new house and out of the hotel he was living in with his family. If he can settle, if he can get a run in the first team, if he can find a level of performance he can sustain over ten games and beyond, and if he can adapt to playing wide in a 4-3-3, he could be outstanding. Will the stars align? We just don’t know but here’s hoping because on his day, there are few players we would rather watch take a man on.
“It's been an up and down 12 months. Flashes of brilliance but overall inconsistent. Talent is clearly there.” – Andrew Gibney, French Football Weekly
"Considered by Felipão as less versatile than his rival Bernard, the former São Paulo attacking midfielder has seen his Seleção stock fall since the Confederations Cup. But his PSG learning curve may soon bear fruit, as he tries to shed the rather one dimensional approach that made the huge fee the French club paid for him look a little hyperbolic." - James Young, Tall Coconuts
"It's been a topsy-turvy year for Lucas since his move to PSG last January, having shown brief glimpses of excellence but lost his regular starting berth since the summer. With the national side, his performances have generally underwhelmed and he has dropped down the pecking order." - Christopher Atkins, The Elastico
"Lucas Moura has provided an assist in each of his last four league appearances for Paris Saint Germain." - Opta
D The full Johnny Nash (more questions than answers) the mark reflects a frustrating year and the giant potential - please, please, please find some consistency