Fabinho was undoubtedly the breakthrough Liverpool player of 2019. The Brazilian has had an incredible year.
Fabinho was just about establishing himself in the first team this time last year. He’d arrived in the summer for £39m from AS Monaco as a very impressive signing.
There was a clear role for him, after all. Jordan Henderson had been a make-shift holding midfielder for a few years but here was a specialised player.
But things started very, very slowly – as we pointed out in our ‘review’ a year ago. Fabinho didn’t even play a minute until September 18th and his first Premier League start didn’t come until late October.
The reason always appeared to be that Jurgen Klopp didn’t quite trust him. Not in a 4-3-3, anyway, as he exclusively played in a 4-2-3-1 with another player alongside him.
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Klopp didn’t use him in tough games, either. Fabinho was on the bench for the ultimately decisive meeting with Manchester City last January and he didn’t start the crunch game at Bayern Munich in March.
But he was absolutely vital within a few months. Klopp eventually trusted him to shield the defence on his own in a 4-3-3 and no one has looked back since.
Fabinho started both games against Barcelona, as well as the final in Madrid. There was little doubt that he was completely established in Liverpool’s starting XI over the summer.
And then he kicked on further this season. Fabinho has progressed into arguably the best holding midfielder in the world – you certainly won’t find any Liverpool fans wanting to swap him.
The way he’s composed the Liverpool team is quite brilliant. Everyone else seems far more comfortable pushing on now he’s there, knowing that he can stop most counter-attacks on his own. It’s a wonderful trait to have.
It’s been a brilliant 2019 and Fabinho is undoubtedly the true breakthrough player of the year. He began the year with so many question marks over him but ends it as possibly the best in his position.
He may kick on even further next year. The sky seems like the limit right now.