Liverpool must have predicted Fabinho decline, tried to replace him for £68m

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Liverpool must have predicted Fabinho decline, tried to replace him for £68m

Liverpool appear to have seen the decline of Fabinho coming. It explains them trying to sign a £68m player in his position.

Fabinho is having the most difficult season of his career. The player is now out of Liverpool’s starting XI, replaced by 18-year-old Stefan Bajcetic.

Not only is Bajcetic incredibly young and equally as inexperienced but he also hasn’t been a defensive midfielder for very long. He arrived at Liverpool two years ago as a centre-back before gradually learning the holding role at youth level.

Now he’s in the team ahead of Fabinho. Even in big games.

Photo by GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images

There has been plenty of criticism of Fabinho from outside the club, too. Jamie Carragher said he was ‘miles off the pace’ months ago, before criticising him again in October. Paul Merson labelled him a ‘problem’ not long after, while Jermaine Pennant had a dig last month.

More recently, Micah Richards claimed Fabinho’s tackling has gotten much worse. It’s been a bad season, in other words.

But perhaps Liverpool saw that coming.

Fabinho struggles at Liverpool

Liverpool tried to sign Aurélien Tchouaméni in the summer. That’s not even paper talk at this point – the player himself admitted to Le Parisien.

The links at the time always confused us, however, as Tchouaméni is best in the holding role. Liverpool had Fabinho, though – so why need the Frenchman? It certainly seemed like a luxury purchase and he eventually went to Real Madrid for £68m, per Marca.

But it all makes sense if Liverpool saw Fabinho’s struggles coming this season. If they thought the Brazilian could decline, signing one of the few young midfielders on his level made a world of sense.

And it’s arguable that Fabinho’s struggles weren’t all that difficult to predict. Liverpool played an awful lot of football last season and the 29-year-old isn’t the world’s most energetic player. It really feels as simple as that.

Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty Images

Failing to find alternative cover beyond Tchouaméni for the £180k-a-week holding midfielder now looks like a mistake. But perhaps the rise of Bajcetic – something that wouldn’t otherwise have happened – is the silver lining here.

If the Spaniard blossoms into a top-class player, maybe losing out on Tchouaméni ends up being a blessing in disguise. That’s the sole positive take right now, anyway.

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