Liverpool’s opening three games have made one thing very clear to us – the Reds do not have a natural deputy for Fabinho.
The Brazilian No 6 did not start the opening game due to the fact that he was late back to pre-season after playing for Brazil at the Copa America.
James Milner filled in against Norwich and played fine. But it is not his natural game to hold back and sit in front of the back four.
He then missed out on the second game, against Burnley, due to the heartbreaking death of his father.
It was Jordan Henderson in the pivot for this one, which he is well able to do. He is a top-class player in this position, but he is even better as a box-to-box No 8.
A Fabinho deputy would put an end to having to change the whole dynamic
The fact that the No 6 and No 8 roles in Liverpool’s midfield are completely different probably does not get enough recognition. What is required from each position is very dissimilar.
Fabinho is the only natural 6 in the squad. While Henderson can also do it, he is the first-choice player in the right-sided 8 role.
So, when Fabinho is out, it means that Jurgen Klopp has to change the whole dynamic of his midfield.
And Fabinho is relatively injury-prone. He had four separate injury absences in 2020/21 and missed 13 games with an ankle issue in 2019/20.
So, it is a regular occurrence that Henderson has to shift across, hence taking even more stability away from the side.
In an ideal world, no player would ever have to cover someone else’s position. It would be perfect if every starter had a designated deputy that could come in when the starter is unavailable.
The defensive midfield role is the only position that requires a starter to change position when the first-choice player is out. We have a natural cover for every position in the back four, for example.
In short, we think that Liverpool need to sign a new No 6.
Someone to come in and play alongside Henderson and one other when Fabinho is absent. Perhaps someone young that can eventually succeed the Brazilian in the starting XI.
The likes of Denis Zakaria or Ismael Bennacer would be great options.
Do we think that Liverpool will address the issue next summer? Probably not, no. But if the money was there, then we think it should be done.