Jurgen Klopp used a £39m luxury against Manchester City on Thursday. It’s one that will benefit the Liverpool squad going forward.
That luxury is a fairly obvious one on the face of things – Fabinho. The Brazilian has been a wonderful addition since his £39m arrival from AS Monaco, although, in a different way to Thursday.
Usually, it’s his excellence in defensive midfield that catches the eye. Take his performance against Crystal Palace, for one, and you see a complete player.
He can tackle, he’s physical, he’s smart – he can even create goals and score screamers. Fabinho is unquestionably one of the world’s best defensive midfielders. Arguably the outright best when he’s on form.
But on Thursday, we saw another side to his game – his versatility. Klopp moved Fabinho to centre-half against City, bringing Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain on for Joe Gomez.
Fabinho moving allowed Klopp to bring on another midfielder for an underperforming player. That’s a real luxury as the alternative was a straight swap in defence or a change of system. Gomez needed to come off but Klopp also wanted to boost his midfield.
It was Fabinho who allowed that. And his versatility could continue to pay dividends going forward.
Dejan Lovren could leave the club in the summer, with clubs like Roma reportedly interested. Should he leave, Liverpool would be short in defence, though.
But would they really want to sign a fourth-choice replacement? Gomez and Virgil Van Dijk are the future at the back, while Joel Matip has been excellent at times this season.
So either the Reds splash cash on a starter, or they’re spending to find a squad player. But if Fabinho can drop back from midfield as an extra option, Liverpool can spend that money in midfield.
It also means Liverpool wouldn’t sign anyone to block the path of Sepp van den Berg or Ki-Jana Hoever. The duo look like very bright talents who simply need a couple more years.
Klopp used this luxury in a 4-0 defeat to City, of course. That isn’t the finest example but we should remember that Liverpool conceded three of those before the switch.
Regardless, this is something we can likely expect more of – and that’s a smart move for the team as a whole.