Fabinho to Liverpool: New signing will strengthen midfield options

Following the signing of Fabinho, we take a look at how he could help Liverpool push on next season.

Liverpool needed a lift after their Champions League disappointment so the timing of this deal was good. Many supporters had barely stepped off the plane from Kiev when it was announced that the club had agreed a £43.7m deal with Monaco to sign Brazil international Fabinho. But the real significance of this signing is that it looks a major coup for the club.

Fabinho, who emerged as one of the young stars of the exciting Monaco team that thrilled Europe during their 2016/17 title-winning campaign, has been linked with both Manchester clubs in the past – it was Jose Mourinho who gave him his top-flight debut at Real Madrid. There have also been reports of strong interest from Arsenal since Unai Emery’s appointment.

But it is Liverpool who have secured his signature and it seems a good fit. Once asked to sum up Monaco in a word, Fabinho simply replied “youth” and he will find plenty of that at Anfield too. Jurgen Klopp needs to keep the momentum going so adding to the depth of the squad was essential and the versatile 24-year-old can go some way to solving that problem.

Having been compelled to introduce Adam Lallana and Emre Can from the bench during the Champions League final against Real Madrid, despite neither man being fully fit, Klopp will already feel more confident about his midfield for next season. Can is expected to leave but with Naby Keita coming in, there will be more quality at Liverpool’s disposal.

Fabinho is a different sort of player. He had to be convinced to switch from full-back to midfield but the move has been a triumph. At 6ft 2in, he is a real presence and should be able to provide good protection for the Liverpool defence. He ranked among the top three tacklers in France this past season and is also among the top six for total passes too.

As one would expect from a Klopp signing, there is more to Fabinho’s game than that. The Liverpool boss has already outlined the player’s ability to operate as a number six or a number eight, while his Monaco counterpart Leonardo Jardim highlighted Fabinho’s “ability to break the lines” as well as his “defensive qualities”. He will make forward passes.

“He has ability and the mentality to play at the highest level in a number of positions,” Klopp explained when the deal was announced. “He is tactically very strong and football smart. I think he improves our squad and there aren’t that many players you can say that about in this moment … This signing gives us new opportunities and for that I am excited.”

Fabinho actually had a quieter season this time around. His form was even criticised around the turn of the year. But it was a similar story with Thomas Lemar and perhaps that was understandable given that the pair had rather been left behind following the sales of Kylian Mbappe, Tiemoue Bakayoko, Benjamin Mendy and Fabinho’s close friend Bernardo Silva.

The hope will be that Fabinho, who has been omitted from Brazil’s World Cup squad, will be ready to push on again next season. Klopp has done his homework and seems confident about his character. “His reputation as a character in the dressing room and his attitude in training has come through from everyone we speak to,” he added.

“We’ve signed a fantastic player, but someone who is an equally fantastic person I think. He has a lovely family also. Adding a person like this to our dressing room only makes us even stronger. What we have, in terms of our environment at Melwood and in the team, means anyone coming in must be of that build. They must be the highest quality person and player.”

Klopp has another key player in that 23 to 28 age bracket with Fabinho joining compatriot Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Virgil van Dijk, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jordan Henderson, Andrew Robertson, Gini Wijnaldum and Keita among others. These are players close to their peak. This is the profile of a squad ready to win. And Fabinho will help.

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