Fabinho is halfway through his debut season at Liverpool. Has he been the answer to Jurgen Klopp’s midfield issues, though?
How it looked then
Liverpool caught everyone off guard by signing Fabinho last summer. Few were reporting any interest and yet the deal went from rumour to completion in the space of a day.
While that may have shocked people, Liverpool wanting a defensive midfielder didn’t. Klopp’s selection of midfielders last season were very similar in type; Gini Wijnaldum, Jordan Henderson, and James Milner are all good players but they’re not specialised players.
Fabinho would be, however. He’d add a new defensive dimension to Liverpool and came with a big reputation.
Fabinho at halfway
Things started slowly. Very slowly, actually. Klopp waited until September 18th to give Fabinho his first minute and it wasn’t until October 27th that he started in the Premier League.
But while things were slow, it’s clear what Fabinho brings. His ability to win the ball high up the pitch is proving vital, while his favoured role has created a new dimension for Liverpool.
Fabinho excels in a midfield two, something that Klopp rarely utilised previously. Last season was almost always 4-3-3, especially after Philippe Coutinho’s exit.
But now he’s been able to sacrifice a midfielder to give himself an extra forward player.
The introduction of Xherdan Shaqiri has allowed Mohamed Salah to play as a number nine without forcing either Sadio Mane or Roberto Firmino out of position.
He may have started slowly but Fabinho has brought exactly what was hoped for.
That’s not to say he’s been perfect, yet. Klopp still doesn’t trust him in the biggest games and mistakes still creep in.
But he’s only just started. The obvious issues need ironing out and that will come with time.
Fabinho’s future with Liverpool
The Brazilian still has more progress to make at Anfield. While Fabinho looks like a great fit at halfway, it’s still been under three months of first-eleven football.
So his performances so far should be taken as a sign of just how good he can become, rather than exactly what Liverpool have bought.
If you take Andy Robertson and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, two players Klopp was equally slow with, we didn’t see the best of them until around March.
And that makes Fabinho a very exciting prospect.