AFTER joining Paris Saint-Germain from Sao Paulo in 2012, it was believed Lucas Moura had the world at his feet.
But he is now in his sixth season at Paris Saint-Germain and is only deemed a rotation option following the arrivals of Neymar and Kylian Mbappe.
Lucas is now being encouraged to leave the French club, for whom he has made more than 150 Ligue 1 appearances, and join Premier League side Arsenal.
But is he what the Gunners need? We asked our friends at Football Whispers to take a closer look at the 25-year-old Arsenal transfer target.
Who is Lucas Moura?
In 2012, when Lucas was being tipped for a big-money switch to Europe, Manchester United were heavily linked with a move.
For a long time they were thought to be the frontrunners to sign the blisteringly quick winger, however, Sir Alex Ferguson wasn’t ready to spend £30million plus on the youngster.
And so, despite interest from United, Chelsea and many other top European clubs, PSG won the race and snapped up the teenager for a £34m fee.
Every season since has been touted as the one in which Lucas explodes and establishes himself as one of European football’s brightest stars. And last term he finished the campaign with 12 goals, his best return to date.
However, after signing Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, the Brazilian has fallen down the pecking order at PSG and is left contemplating his future.
In Unai Emery’s second campaign in charge, Lucas has struggled for game time.
He hasn’t started for PSG in any of their eight league games and has only managed 38 minutes from the substitutes’ bench. Meanwhile, he has yet to feature in their opening two Champions League fixtures.
So Lucas has a fight on his hands. Not only to get back into the PSG side but also into the Brazil squad which has been guided to the 2018 World Cup by Tite.
The winger’s last appearance for the Selecao came in 2016 when he played 14 minutes against Ecuador in the Copa América Centenario.
And without more time on the pitch, it will be extremely difficult for Lucas force his way back into the squad.
However, a move this winter, consistent football and improved performances, could be exactly what he needs to get his career back on track.
Former Chelsea defender Alex, who also played for PSG, has urged his compatriot to join Arsenal during the next transfer window.
Speaking to L’Equipe, the Brazilian defender said: “I would like to see him at Arsenal. They play cleaner football, more technical football. There has been contact, I believe. And they would be a good option for him this winter.”
Neymar, meanwhile, has apparently added Gunners striker Alexis Sanchez to his PSG wishlist, so with the Chilean on his way out and the future of Mesut Ozil still up in the air, Arsene Wenger needs to think about replacements.
But what would he offer the Gunners? Lucas is a quick and direct winger who is very good at taking on defenders on either flank. He has excellent ball control, can skip by opponents in tight situations and is able to fire off dangerous shots from distance.
And rather than playing as a limited winger, the 25-year-old has become very adept at popping up on the opposite flank to get on the end of crosses and score.
He has space to still improve his end product, but to do that he needs minutes. Playing wide in Arsenal’s 3-4-3, behind the striker in either position, Lucas would be perfect and a great addition to the north London squad.
How much would he cost?
With a contract ending in 2019, the Brazilian can’t afford to wait until he is 27 to find first-team football. If he’s not going to be offered more chances in the French capital, a move should be top of his agenda.
When Neymar initially joined PSG in the summer, Lucas was reported as a Liverpool transfer target. Their interest may remain and reports from France that a fee of around £26m will land Lucas wouldn’t put off many clubs.
In the summer Lucas was keen to stay in Paris. But now, with playing time at a minimum, rather than reject the idea of a move, he has opened the door.
“I think I have a future in this team,” he said. “So I’m going to work…but we do not know what’s going to happen tomorrow.”
Where is his most likely destination?
Learning and developing under Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool could bring the best out of Lucas, especially in the German’s free-flowing attack. However, he has never quite shown the defensive qualities the former Dortmund coach demands.
So a move to Arsenal may suit best and placing Lucas in an attack with Alexandre Lacazette and Danny Welbeck could offset the loss Sanchez and Ozil.
For Wenger, having someone with Lucas’ attacking talents, who is able to link up with the current forwards and open space down the flank for the wing-backs, could be the ideal addition.
And playing in the Premier League, finding success with the Gunners and finally fulfilling his potential and he could complete his dream of competing with Brazil in next summer’s World Cup.