Fabinho must be prepared to work harder than ever in the wake of Virgil van Dijk’s injury. The Brazilian will have a lot to do this season.
Fabinho will have to work particularly hard this season. That was true before Saturday but now, after Virgil van Dijk’s injury, the workload has gone up even further.
We highlighted back in July how Jurgen Klopp appeared to want the £39m man as a fourth-choice centre-half. That’s a role that Dejan Lovren held last season but this year, Fabinho has it alongside his usual job as a holding midfielder.
That’s a high workload, then, as Fabinho is effectively doing the job of two players. Well, on Saturday he got a ‘promotion’.
Van Dijk could well miss the entire season, ruling him out as an option. That means Fabinho is essentially third-choice centre-half this season.
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That’s not an easy task, let alone when you’re also the holding midfielder. For one, Joel Matip has a terrible injury record over the last year – he likely won’t play every week. He made his first start on Saturday since the first game after the restart and he’s already a doubt for Wednesday.
But that means Fabinho will have to cover him. This is no ordinary ‘third-choice’ role then. Fabinho may end up playing at the back for a large chunk of the campaign.
He’s got a role as one of the best holding players on the planet, though. Liverpool will want and need him there as often as possible. Combine the two needs and you’ve got a player who can’t afford to rest much this season.
Learning on the job
Fabinho isn’t a natural centre-half, of course. He still has to learn that job and develop partnerships with the other defenders. That isn’t easy – it takes work on the training ground.
On top of that, he’s already learning a new partnership with Thiago in midfield. That, again, will take work in training.
We don’t doubt that Fabinho is capable of all this – he’s a world-class footballer. But it’s worth noting just how much Liverpool will have to ask of the Brazilian this season.
If he pulls it all off, he deserves all the praise in the world.