Could Jurgen Klopp trust Fabinho to change position? It’s a move that could save Liverpool a considerable sum of money this summer.
Hole in the side
Liverpool sold Dejan Lovren this summer. That leaves them with three senior centre-halves – and that’s fewer than Klopp wants.
The boss spoke in July about having four senior options and how that lends to success at the top. Now with just three, something surely needs to happen. It doesn’t sound like he wants to promote anyone inexperienced in top-flight football just yet – something the Echo backs up.
The most obvious thing to do is sign a new defender. That may be unlikely, however, as the money isn’t necessarily there to do that right now. The economic climate doesn’t lend itself to spending excessively and bringing in a fourth-choice player may be just that.
It’s worth noting that the Liverpool Echo claimed a few months ago that the Reds only had leeway to sign one player. That player was a backup left-back and sure enough, Kostas Tsimikas arrived on Monday.
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But that doesn’t mean Liverpool aren’t reportedly considering centre-halves. The Liverpool Echo, for one, says that the Reds extensively scouted Ben White last season. The Mirror says similar. We trust both sources and are inclined to believe that Liverpool do want White.
That doesn’t mean Liverpool will bid, though. Leeds United reportedly have and Brighton rejected two offers, the second of which reached £22m. We can’t quite see the Reds paying near £30m for a support player, unfortunately.
There is another internal option, however.
The position on Fabinho
We wrote after the Manchester City defeat that Klopp had tried out a ‘luxury’ with Fabinho. The boss tried him as a centre-half instead of Joe Gomez for the second half and things did improve.
Liverpool hardly turned the game around but Fabinho was decent in a strange and difficult match. The question now is whether Klopp can trust him there over a season.
He wouldn’t ask Fabinho to play there consistently, of course. But with Lovren gone, someone needs to take up the 10 Premier League games he had last season. You can add three Champions League games on top of that, in fact.
That’s what Fabinho would need to do. He’d need to step back from midfield and play alongside, in all likelihood, Virgil van Dijk. Then another midfielder (Jordan Henderson, we’d imagine) would play his holding role.
That does fit well together. If you were going to ask a player to play out of position alongside anyone, you’d pick Van Dijk. If Liverpool could have anyone covering the holding role, it would be Henderson – one of the best in the country.
Fitting the mould
Fabinho ticks several boxes for a centre-half. He’s tall, he’s comfortable playing a physical game, and he’s a natural when it comes to reading the game and incepting. Can he translate those abilities to centre-half, though?
You’d have to say that for a fourth-choice, he probably can. Fabinho is good enough and smart enough that learning a new position should come fairly easily. He transitioned from right-back to midfield earlier in his career, after all.
If he can do similar in the centre of defence, then he can potentially save Liverpool the £22m+ Brighton want for White. And that’s got to be worth a try.