Jose Enrique has urged Jurgen Klopp to pair Fabinho with potential Liverpool debutant Ozan Kabak for the gargantuan Anfield encounter with Manchester City on Sunday.
Kabak, 20, was granted international clearance on Friday, which enables the deadline-day signing from Schalke to potentially make his Liverpool debut at the weekend.
Enrique on Kabak and Fabinho combination
Enrique’s comments follow from Klopp’s injury reports that Liverpool are set to benefit from the return of Sadio Mane, Alisson Becker and Fabinho, who all missed Wednesday’s defeat to Brighton.
The latter’s return, in particular, has been the subject of much debate in recent days with a number of footballing figures, including Jamie Carragher, believing that the Brazilian’s return will finally enable Klopp to utilise Jordan Henderson back in midfield.
Henderson, 30, has been forced to deputise at centre-back in six of Liverpool’s previous seven matches. His absence in his preferred midfield role has had a detrimental impact on performances in recent weeks, to say the least.
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Currently trailing league leaders Manchester City by seven points, having played a game more, Liverpool are also on a barren four-match winless run at Anfield – which was compounded with back-to-back home defeats against Burnley and Brighton.
Henderson’s return to midfield, then, could finally see Liverpool rediscover their edge and regain some momentum with a much-needed win over the Premier League’s current leading pack.
And this is something Enrique believes the acquisition of Kabak from the Bundesliga will certainly lead towards.
The seven-time Turkey international was even lauded as a “future captain of a team” by former Schalke boss, David Wagner, who also said “everybody was clear he was a massive talent”.
Speaking on Instagram, Enrique said: “Mane, Fabinho, and Alisson are all likely to be ready for Sunday’s clash against Manchester City.
“Hopefully, they are all fit enough to play from the start because we need to beat city yes or yes if not a believe the premier league title is going to be very difficult to have even a chance.
“But, I really believe we are going to beat City. Do you believe we are going to beat city? And as well you will play any of the new centre backs? For me, I will play Kabak and Fabinho and play Hendo in midfield.”
What RTK has to say
Enrique is spot-on. Getting the balance right in midfield has remained a challenge for Klopp ever since Fabinho was forced to deputise in central defence.
This has put greater onus on Thiago to spark Liverpool’s midfield into life, which the Spaniard has so far failed to acomplish.
With Henderson back in the team, for the first time since October 17, Liverpool will have their captain and marque signing in Klopp’s starting midfield triumvirate.
No wonder Liverpool have been struggling, then. It is seriously disruptive to play two members of a title-winning triumvirate out of position.
As a matter of fact, Klopp has only been able to play what is arguably his first-choice midfield – Henderson, Fabinho and Thiago – on just one occasion this season (Everton away).
Hopefully, with the reinstatement of Fabinho in the team coupled with the two deadline-day acquisitions in defence, we won’t have to wait too long to see Klopp given licence to unleash his preferred midfield triumvirate in the coming weeks.