How would you sum up Lucas’ abilities on the field?
Julien: “The thing that comes to the forefront for anyone who types his name into YouTube and watches his videos is his blistering pace, without the ball but also – and probably more importantly – with the ball. With his skills, as well, he’s probably as good as he is with the pace he has, so he can take on anyone, not only on the counter-attack, pushing the ball and running, but also by doing tricks and dribbling. I think he’s improved a lot on his crossing and his decision-making since moving to Paris but his pace and skills are really, really outstanding.”
Was he often considered a first-choice player at PSG?
Julien: “He arrived in January, 2013, tipped as one of the most promising young players in the world, which he was at the time. PSG paid a lot of money for him. He made a slow start after coming from Brazil, obviously because of the new culture, new country, new football, all those kinds of things, and also arriving in Paris in the winter as well. But in fairness he was always part of the first team – for example, he played a lot last year and even more the year before that – whether that was under Laurent Blanc or under Unai Emery now. The thing was, the competition got higher and higher in his position with Neymar, with Kylian Mbappe, with Angel Di Maria and with Julian Draxler. He was always very close to the first team, but then especially this year that was all gone because of the competition for his place.”
Do you expect him to fit well into our style of play here at Spurs?
Julien: “Yes. The pace that he has for the game in transition will be perfect. He’s typically the kind of player where, if you get the ball and counter-attack, in three or four passes you will be right up there in the box with Son or Harry Kane, for example, so there’s no problem with that. I think his movement against a team that plays very deep with his skills and his dribbling will become very handy too. He can dribble past two or three people in a very tight space. At PSG, he used to play a lot of teams who were very deep and basically playing with 11 men in their box, so he’s used to that kind of opposition. Maybe that’s the kind of profile that Spurs have been lacking this year because with Dele or even Son, even though they’re very good at dribbling, they still need space to do that but Lucas can dribble in literally no space at all. Also, he puts in the effort to defend and track back. He’s only 25 and with that potential, I think he’s a very, very good signing for Spurs. Let’s not be too impatient, though, because again he’s coming in January, he hasn’t played much at all this season so although he’s very fit, he would probably like a bit of match fitness. I wouldn’t expect him to be at his best straight away but for the rest of this season, he’s got four months to really adapt to a new manager and to a different style in the Premier League.”
Above: Lucas in action for PSG in January, 2017.
How have you found Lucas to deal with on a personal level?
Julien: “He’s a lovely guy, really nice. There’s no arrogance and he’s just had a baby not long ago and I think that as well might have been part of his thinking when he decided to move. I think the baby will make him even more mature and it’s a great thing to be a dad. He’s a family guy, a team player and the little message that he sent to say goodbye to PSG shows what a guy he is – he was very respectful, he could have been ticked off because he didn’t play this year but instead he was very gracious and thanked everybody in Paris for these last few years.”
Tell us a bit about Lucas’ friendship with Serge Aurier from their time at PSG…
Julien: “First of all they were close on the pitch because they played on the right side most of the time, so that helped and then they sort of developed a friendship off the pitch because Lucas’ French is very good. His English is good too, he’s a very clever kid full stop, so obviously that helps. Serge and him clicked very quickly and very easily. Lucas was at PSG before Serge but they played near each other on the pitch and I’m sure that’s one thing that Mauricio Pochettino saw as well. He must have thought, ‘I can have the two guys who were on the right-hand side of one of the best teams in Europe for the last four years in my team now.’ They’re used to each other and they could probably link up with each other with their eyes closed. I’m sure Kieran Trippier will get to know Lucas very quickly down that side as well but to have Serge and Lucas already knowing exactly what kind of runs each other will make, when they overlap, that’s surely a huge asset to have.”
Could Lucas be in line to feature against Arsenal on Saturday? Check out what Mauricio Pochettino has had to say...