Lucas' most impressive season since PSG arrival earns him new contract
Paris Saint-Germain supporters were probably still revelling in Monday's news that Javier Pastore penned a new contract until 2019 when they were given a further boost just 48 hours later. On Wednesday, the French champions announced that Lucas Moura had joined his Argentine teammate in pledging his future to the capital outfit after the Brazilian also signed on for another four years.
Despite not playing a big role in PSG's end-of-season run-in after struggling to return to full fitness following surgery on a muscular injury picked up in February, the 2014-15 campaign has been Lucas' best so far at the Parc des Princes.
At one point, the 22-year-old was arguably Les Parisiens' player of the season after developing more of a clinical streak in front of goal than he displayed in the past. The South American also lived up to coach Laurent Blanc's preseason claims that he was going to become a key figure for the team.
"I am very happy," Lucas declared after the news was announced on PSG's official website. "For me, playing here is a source of great pride. I hope to continue helping my team win more and more trophies. My dream is to become a part of the club's history.
"I hope that we keep on winning and that, next season, we win the Champions League," the PSG No. 7 continued. "That's a main aim now. This season has been magnificent, incredible. We have achieved something extraordinary, and I will never forget it. I am very proud to play for PSG."
Although this season has been one of major progress and a source of pride for Moura, he will also look back at the campaign with a twinge of frustration. The aforementioned muscular injury cost the PSG man dear.
Not only did the problem take his team down to 10 men on the day -- Blanc's side ultimately finished with nine players because of a wild spate of injuries and conceded two very late goals to throw away a two-goal lead -- but the injury came just days before the first leg of PSG's Champions League round-of-16 tie with Chelsea. Lucas missed both legs of the Chelsea encounter and would ultimately be ruled out for two months once it was decided that surgery was necessary to correct the problem.
Moura's pace and trickery were missed in the first leg of the Chelsea clash and both Barcelona encounters -- although he made a short substitute appearance at the Camp Nou -- while PSG could have done with him against the likes of Monaco and Bordeaux in the closing months of the season.
More importantly, though, that absence for the best part of the last three months of the term cost him his place in Brazil's Copa America squad. It is a cruel blow for a player who was devastated to miss last summer's World Cup on home soil.
Brazil manager Dunga clearly plans to involve Lucas in his new-look Selecao outfit, but the 51-year-old has been frustrated in his attempts to use the player so far. Called up for the November internationals after scoring in a 2-0 win over bitter rivals Olympique de Marseille, Moura had to withdraw with a foot injury. By the time Dunga's next opportunity to call on the PSG man arrived in March, Moura was already carrying a muscular injury and there would be no other chances to impress before this summer's warm-up games ahead of the Copa America in Chile -- not an ideal time to bring in a new face for a first look.
It really is harsh on Moura, who worked extremely hard to impress after missing the World Cup last summer. He also came in for some criticism last season because of an inability to score regularly for PSG and the Brazilian improved on that front, too; finishing the season with seven goals and five assists to his name -- his best scoring effort since arriving in Paris.
However, by the time Moura got injured, he had at least done enough to convince Blanc, Les Parisiens' hierarchy and the supporters that he has a big role to play in the future. Now the challenge for the South American is to get back to full fitness, rediscover the same form next season and ultimately reestablish himself in the Brazil squad.
Immensely popular with the supporters who now regularly sing "champion mon frere" as a tribute to the Selecao star's famous line when celebrating trophy success, Moura will be given all the time he needs to find his feet again. Buoyed by his double dose of international heartache and a sense of having had his hard work undone, do not be surprised if a revitalised Moura hits the ground running next campaign.
Jonathan Johnson covers PSG and the French national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @Jon_LeGossip.