COMMENT By Will Butcher

Jurgen Klopp must begin contract negotiations with Liverpool ace Lucas Leiva before he is free to talk to clubs in January.

The 29-year-old’s current Anfield deal expires in June, meaning he is allowed to strike a pre-contract deal with non-English clubs from January 1.

Brazil international Lucas has been relied upon to cover many of Liverpool’s defensive injuries this season, and here are three reasons why Klopp must offer him a new deal.

Versatility

From the beginning of the season, Lucas has been moulded into a ball-playing centre-half under Klopp and has appeared at the back more regularly than his natural holding midfield role.

The Reds have won eight of the nine games Lucas has played in, as he continues to play a crucial part as one of the longer-serving members of Klopp’s squad.

Still able to ply his trade at the base of Liverpool’s midfield, Lucas should be tied down as he can offer cover for both positions.

Experience and leadership

Liverpool are arguably lacking in leaders at the moment, despite Jordan Henderson’s impressive form as captain of the Merseyside giants.

Other than Henderson and James Milner, it is difficult to pinpoint any of the Reds squad that offer any sort of leadership qualities.

Lucas provides such leadership, and plays a crucial part in helping the younger members of Liverpool’s squad in learning to improve both on and of the field.

Plenty of years ahead

Set to turn 30 in January, you would be forgiven for thinking that it would be in the interest of Liverpool to allow Lucas to leave before his fitness and speed begin to deteriorate.

However, in the role Lucas plays, speed is not required as he either sits in front of the back four tidying proceedings up, or plays deep alongside a quick centre-back.

With both Lovren and Joel Matip possessing plenty of pace, Lucas should be kept at Anfield as he still has plenty of quality to offer Klopp’s side.

In other Liverpool news, this midfielder is set for an extended spell on the sidelines.