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When it was announced last summer that Paris Saint-Germain had won the race to sign Lucas Moura for an eye watering €45m, it was certainly met with some scepticism. The moneybags of French football had beaten Manchester United – one of the world’s elite – to his signature thanks a one to one with compatriot Leonardo who orchestrated the move. Yes, it would be naive to think that money did not play a part in Lucas’ decision but the chance to link up with his fellow Brazilians – Thiago Silva, Maxwell, Alex & Nene at the time – was an ideal opportunity for him to integrate at a top European club. He has not only integrated since he arrived in January, he has flourished. Winning PSG Player of the Month twice on the bounce remonstrates how highly the Parisien faithful rate him. The performance against Barcelona last week was an eye opener to the watching world but it was his performance at the Camp Nou last night that has made him an ‘instant’ household name.
No more questions about whether or not this young lad has the bottle or personality to perform on the grandest stage. He was undoubtedly the most influential player on the pitch last – from either team – in an attacking sense. Operating out on the right-hand side, he terrified Jordi Alba at left-back who struggled to deal with him for most of the night. The Brazilian’s ability to pick the ball up from deep, run with it at pac and leaving his adversaries for dead is something we have not seen done to a Barca team for some time. Perhaps the element of the unknown played a part (from a FCB perspective), as he certainly exceeded his potential in such a big game. Coming inside as well he was influential, linking up with Zlatan Ibrahimovic who would drop back to support. He was also fouled numerous times, as he was in the first-leg. His quick feet and electrifying pace was just too much for Barelona to bear. Even from set-pieces, particularly corners, he had the home team worried.
I said before the game that he and Lavezzi would determine if we had a chance of beating them. Our main strength is on the counter-attack and the pace of them two is the key to that. Javier Pastore too put in a sterling display and his ability opened the Blaugrana up which worked to our advantage as we approached their 18-yard box.
The star of the show however was the 19-year-old from Sao Paulo. With Lionel Messi not on the pitch, it was the number 29 who revelled in front of 98,000 fans. The Catalan support would have appreciated just how majestic Lucas was. Every time he got the ball he got you out of your seat because you felt something was going to happen. Great players have the capability to do that and Lucas is well on the road to being placed in that category. When you consider that this was only his fourth Champions League outing, it does make it all the more impressive. Especially when two of them have been against the best team in the world.
The only thing missing from him so far is a goal, which will come in time. Never mind that, what he has brought to the team since he arrived has been nothing short of remarkable. We have a genuine superstar in the making who could be our very own Lionel Messi.