On July 1 st 2018, Liverpool FC had announced they had signed Fabinho Tavares from AS Monaco for around £40 million. But, unlike almost every Liverpool signing, this was the first we had heard about the deal. No reported interest, no reported deal, only the announcement the player was having a medical a few hours before. It was strange, yet extremely good news for the club and especially its fans, after the Brazilian midfielder was rumoured heavily with Manchester United. But after seeing the former Real Madrid man’s performances for Monaco during their run to the Champions League
semi-final in 2016/17, it became clear very quickly that Liverpool had signed one of the most sought-after holding midfielders in Europe.
Being a defensive midfielder of immense strength but also with superb passing ability, Fabinho is a player that Liverpool needed ever since the departure of Javier Mascherano in 2010. For 8 years, teams managed by Roy Hodgson, Kenny Dalglish and Brendan Rodgers have had players such as Alberto Aquilani, Charlie Adam and Joe Allen trying to fill the void, and even Jurgen Klopp had to try and squeeze Jordan Henderson in a role too deep for him. But the signing of the Brazilian was a real statement of intent. And although he didn’t make his debut until as a substitute in the 3-2 win over PSG, Klopp slowly eased the midfielder into first team action until, by Liverpool’s first meeting with Manchester United in December, he was a recognised starter. He made sure of it in the game, producing a superb defensive display and lobbed played a perfect lobbed through ball to Sadio Mane for Liverpool’s opener. And ever since then, he has bene the first name in the midfield.
Not only has the Brazilian powerhouse been a mainstay in the midfield but has been versatile in defence. Most notably, he started alongside Joel Matip at centre-back against Bayern Munich in the UCL Last 16 after VVD was suspended, and often played RB covering for Trent after Clyne was loaned to Bournemouth and Joe Gomez was injured – his 6’2 figure means he can easily slot into the defence, but his acceleration and vision means he is perfectly capable at full-back. But it is in the midfield where he has such stand-out performances.
There are countless games where Fabinho has been imperative to victory – firstly Manchester United, but also wins over Bayern, Chelsea, and especially, the home victory over Barcelona, where he managed to pocket Lionel Messi for the night. The way the Brazilian manages to win the ball from all angles, they way he can spot Mo or Sadio on a run, or even join the attack playing a defense-splitting pass and setting up a goal, like the assist he gave to Salah on Saturday for the Egyptian’s second against Arsenal. And after being in the shadow of the leagues’ defensive rocks such as Ngolo Kante and Fernandinho, Fabinho is quickly asserting himself as one of the best in the league, especially after Guardiola replaced City’s Brazilian Rodri. But with other midfielders such as Tanguy Ndombele and Dani Ceballos now beginning to impress, Fabinho needs to keep up his from not only to keep at the top of his game, but to make sure that the Liverpool Machine can work in a smooth, orderly fashion. Because when he is not played, there is uncertainty between the defence and the midfield, and there is not enough creativity from deep. He really is pivotal to our side.