Everywhere you look in the current Liverpool team, there is serious quality. Seven of the 30 Ballon D’Or nominees are members of Jurgen Klopp’s squad, covering every position of the pitch from Alisson in goal through to the attacking triumvirate of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino.
Midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum was also nominated, along with defenders Virgil van Dijk and Trent Alexander-Arnold. Andrew Robertson might not have made the cut, but his tally of 16 assists since the start of last season speaks for his exceptional quality as a roving left-back.
For all the undoubted quality those players possess, though, perhaps the most consistent performer for the Reds so far this season has been Fabinho. Having had to wait until late October for his first Premier League start last term after joining the Reds in summer 2018, the Brazil midfielder has been in the first XI for all but one league match so far in this campaign.
Indeed, he hasn’t been substituted in any game since the Community Shield and has been ever-present in the league since his substitute appearance against Southampton in August.
Fabinho’s impressive statistics at Liverpool this season
Fabinho’s consistent selection isn’t a case of blind loyalty from Klopp, either. Across several metrics, he has been one of Liverpool’s best-performing players so far in 2019/20.
Going into this weekend’s clash against Aston Villa, he has won more tackles per game (2.5) in the Premier League than anyone else in the Reds squad, while his tally of 1.3 interceptions per game is the fifth-highest at Anfield. He is not just well able to win the ball; he also distributes it smartly, with an 86.8% success rate from 62.1 passes per game (1.3 of which are key passes).
His figures for Liverpool’s Champions League campaign have been even better, with a match average of 3.7 successful tackles, 1.7 interceptions, 1.3 successful dribbles and 68 passes, with a distribution accuracy of 89.7%. [via WhoScored]
His improvement from last season has been marked. In his first Premier League campaign, he averaged 2.1 successful tackles, one interception, 0.6 key passes and 57.5 passes per game, with 85.3% accuracy. In the 2018/19 Champions League, he recorded 2.5 successful tackles, 1.1 interceptions and 40.8 passes per game, with an accuracy rate of 81.1%. [via WhoScored]
Pundits’ praise for Fabinho
Fabinho’s numbers speak for the significant improvement he has made from when he first joined Liverpool, but quite a few pundits have also voiced their commendation of the 26-year-old’s performances.
In September, Gary Neville said on Sky Sports’ Monday Night Football [via This Is Anfield]: “He doesn’t sit back in games – these holding midfield players who play horizontally, passes sideways and shift that way when they’re shuttling across.
“Fabinho plays vertically as well, he goes forward with his passes, he moves forward and steps in and wins the ball back. I think the best holding midfield players aren’t just people who just shuffle across and make it look simple, they also step into the game as well.”
When speaking about the Liverpool man earlier this week, Paul Robinson told Football Insider: “I think he’s up there when it comes to the best holding midfielders in the Premier League, I like Fernandinho as he is outstanding as well, but I think the role he plays in the Liverpool team…he is definitely one of the best.”
If there is one flaw to Fabinho’s game which needs addressing, it’s his propensity to picking up yellow cards. He already has five this season, four in the Premier League, and if he is booked at Aston Villa this weekend, he will be suspended for the crunch clash against Manchester City on Sunday week.
His importance to the team is illustrated by the plethora of Liverpool fans who called for him not to be included in the side at Villa Park so that he won’t run the risk of suspension for the visit of the Premier League champions to Anfield.
Fabinho’s excellent ball-winning and distribution statistics show that he has become a vital presence in this Liverpool line-up, while the glowing praise from pundits such as Neville indicates that he is getting deserved recognition for his consistently solid performances.
A year ago, it would have seemed highly improbable that Reds supporters would have asked for him to be left out of a game in order to ensure his availability for a crucial game against title rivals. Now, it’s easy to see why so many Kopites have voiced such sentiment.