Liverpool will face a slight midfield dilemma with James Milner being ruled out for a month with a hamstring injury during the Reds’ 1-0 defeat to Napoli in the Champions League. Questions have already been asked across all four corners of the earth as to who should step in and take the role that the former Manchester City man has been so consistent throughout the season so far.
After making a number of summer signings, particularly in midfield, Jurgen Klopp has become spoilt for choice in the middle of the park as Adam Lallana also returns to first-team training. With a lot of talk going around about the concern that the Reds potentially possess a lack of goal scorers from central positions, the obvious choice Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain out for the season, attention will be turned to Liverpool’s new Brazilian guardian, Fabinho.
It’s a fantastic opportunity for the Brazilian – who won Ligue 1 and reached the Champions League semi-finals in the 2016/17 season – who can cement his place in the starting eleven for the Reds’ if he impresses, and it would illustrate to Klopp why he was justified in moving quickly for his signature due to the imminent departure at that time of Emre Can to Juventus.
So, what does Fabinho bring to this Liverpool side that James Milner can’t? This is the question on the lips of all Reds’ fans. Some argue that defensively they are sound, after only conceding three goals in the first eight games and are undefeated in the Premier League, their best start since 1996/97, according to TransferMarkt, and have averaged a goalscoring rate of 1.88 goals on average per game.
A Genuine All-Rounder
Fabinho has all of the traits required to keep this figure as high and possible, and his presence in the side could be a blessing in disguise for Jurgen Klopp and his men. Squawka revealed a list of statistics that had Liverpool fans foaming at the mouth upon his unveiling in the famous red shirt. Fabinho scored more Ligue 1 goals in the 2017/18 season than Liverpool midfielders in the Premier League combined. Georginio Wijnaldum could only manage two Premier League goals, only Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain netted more with three. Fabinho is certainly a defensive-minded player which we saw against Chelsea in the Carabao Cup, but with seven goals and three assists last season for Monaco place Fabinho in pole position to step into James Milner’s shoes for their trip to Huddersfield Town in the Premier League on Saturday and could see him utilised as a box-to-box midfielder.
Not only does he possess goals, but also tackling is one of his strongest attributes. With a total of 114 tackles, that sort of statistic is exactly what Jurgen Klopp is looking for him to protect the back line and nullify any threat which could be posed through the likes of Rajiv van La Parra and Aaron Mooy for Huddersfield Town, who have proven themselves as fully established Premier League players since their promotion to the top-flight in 2016/17.
The good news keeps coming with the Brazilian international. He completed more passes than any of his Monaco teammates last season, with the front three of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane starved of any sufficient service as we saw against Napoli and Manchester City, Fabinho will be looking to bring an unexpected edge that will help unlock the firepower of the front three that had jaws dropping across the world of football last season. He achieved a 70% pass completion accuracy, which easily top-trumped Jordan Henderson with just 59%. With Klopp’s counter-attacking philosophy, Fabinho’s urgency to get the ball moving with a range of passing will certainly give Liverpool options in the long run.
Last but not least, despite missing a penalty in pre-season against Torino (not like it mattered), Fabinho converted 15 of his 15 spot kicks for his former side, tallying up 23 goals in total. An unprecedented record from 18 yards.
Yes, Fabinho was an expensive signing who has clearly not been used to most of his capabilities. Some will say “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” in respect of Liverpool undefeated streak in the league. But with the absence of James Milner, who has arguably been Liverpool’s Player of the Season, it will take a big-time player to fill his boots and Fabinho will certainly do that.