After being continually linked with a blockbuster move to Manchester United, Fabinho has shockingly signed for their bitter rivals instead, Liverpool. The powerful defensive midfielder has put pen to paper on a 4-year contract at Anfield in a deal worth over £45million.
The signing comes just a few days after the Reds suffered a heart-breaking loss in the UEFA Champions League Final. With Naby Keita already on his way to Merseyside, the Reds have significantly upgraded their midfield. Fabinho is one of the brightest young talents in football, at Liverpool, he will only continue to improve.
Here’s what Fabinho brings to Liverpool.
For those who don’t know, Fabinho started off his career as a right-back in Brazil. It was only when he arrived at Monaco in 2015 that he was converted into a defensive midfielder, now he is arguably one of the best DMs in the world.
As Jürgen Klopp said, the Brazilian can play as a ‘6’, ‘8’ or ‘2’, meaning he can either play as a holding midfielder, a regista or a right-back. This means he’ll easily be able to replace what Emre Can was bringing to Liverpool, and more.
After a major long-term injury, Nathaniel Clyne hasn’t been able to replicate his form from a couple of seasons ago. This has left Trent Alexander-Arnold to be Liverpool’s first choice RB, but with Fabinho now at Melwood, the Reds finally have another option at RB, an option whose quality quite comfortably supersedes that of the academy product.
Seeing as he started his career as a right-back, it’s no surprise that the 24-year-old’s first instinct is to defend. That’s why he’s been able to adapt to the role of DM seamlessly; he sniffs out danger and positions himself accordingly. Such intelligence was vital to Monaco’s surprise Ligue 1 triumph in 2017. Standing tall at 6’2”, Fabinho possesses the perfect physical presence to excel in the Premier League.
Many assume that because of his large frame he’s a knucklehead destroyer that’s best attributes are only off the ball rather than on it. However, in 34 Ligue 1 appearances, the 24-year-old maintained an 86.3% pass accuracy. On top of that, he created 30 chances for his teammates, all from the base of the midfield. Evidently, his passing range is exceptional as he has the ability to execute risky passes, unlike Jordan Henderson. Such composure in possession will be needed if the Reds are to break down low-block defences next season.
Even though his job is to defend and protect the defensive line, Fabinho still managed to contribute to 10 goals for Monaco last season directly. At Liverpool, such a willingness to contribute to the attacking phase would fit in perfectly with Jürgen Klopp’s gegenpressing style of play.
It takes more than the passion for executing a high press throughout the team, the DM especially has to be on the ball as he must cover the space left behind by his midfield partners. So, next season, Liverpool won’t be caught out on the counter-attack anymore as they’ll have two steps ahead DM facilitating their high work rates.