Fabinho is becoming one of Liverpool’s most valuable players. After a slow start to his Liverpool career, he is establishing himself as a fan favourite. He is a driving force within Liverpool’s midfield and now seen as a critical player by many. Evidently, his £39.5m transfer fee from Monaco to Liverpool is now looking like a bargain.
Fabinho is Liverpool’s best destroyer & deep-lying playmaker. He can win aerial and ground duels, is comfortable in possession under pressure, and can play key passes.
Fabinho’s key strengths include tackling, winning aerial duels, playing key passes, and his strong concentration on and off the ball. This is why he has been so vital to Liverpool this season.
His ability to hold onto the ball goes hand-in-hand with the fact he gets fouled often. He’s a lynchpin at keeping possession for Liverpool and starting the attack from deep. For instance, against Manchester City, Liverpool were 1-0 down. Klopp brought Fabinho on, and within a matter of minutes, Liverpool had scored. His ability to get on the ball and orchestrate progressive play got Liverpool their goal.
Jürgen Klopp loves versatility within players and their ability to adapt to multiple positions and systems. Fabinho is an incredibly versatile player.
For example, so far this season he has played CDMF, RDMF, LDMF, RCB, and LCB for Liverpool. In the past, he has played RB for Brazil and AS Monaco.
His heatmap showcases how versatile and dominant he is in midfield covering plenty of ground. The deep red within the heatmap illustrates he is often played at RDMF. However, he supports centrally getting involved in the attack.
Fabinho wasn’t up to speed with the EPL and the style of play of Liverpool, so Klopp had to accommodate him by playing 4-2-3-1. Also, Klopp deployed him in a 4-4-1-1: similar to a 4-2-3-1.
His decision-making wasn’t quick enough, so Klopp didn’t want to risk him in a single pivot. He relied on the support of Wijnaldum for a few months to marshall him and provide protection.
Now, Fabinho has acclimatised to the speed of the league and style of play, and is capable of playing as the single pivot in a 4-3-3.
Fabinho’s decision making has quickened increasing his reliability to play in the lone six role. This allows Keïta and Wijnaldum to get forward. However, one of the two advanced midfielders occasionally drops back to partner Fabinho, providing protection against the counter-attack.
To illustrate, against Bournemouth he played as a single pivot in a 4-3-3. Fabinho hadn’t played in a single pivot since the 1-1 draw against Arsenal in the EPL where he failed to impress.
Against one of the best counter-attacking teams in the Premier League, he totalled:
88.3% pass accuracy
20/23 final third passes
5 ball recoveries
2 chances created
1 headed clearance
1 defensive aerial duel won
As a result, it was a strong performance by Fabinho playing in a role he hadn’t for many games.
One of the most efficient DMFs within the top six this season
Fabinho has stood out as one of the most efficient DMFs within the top six this season. Statistically comparing him to the likes of Fernandinho, Matić, Torreira, and Jorginho, Fabinho stands out at only 24 years of age within his first season.
Firstly, Fabinho has the highest assists per 90 (0.11) of any midfielder on the list. This may illustrate the high quality of chances he creates for his teammates.
Successful defensive actions
Furthermore, only Fernandinho (9.71) and Matić (9.37) are ahead of Fabinho (8.49) regarding successful defensive actions per 90. In detail, with the defensive experience of both Fernandinho (age 33) and Matić (age 30), it makes sense they would have more successful defensive actions per 90.
Moreover, Fabinho has the highest tackles per 90 (0.91) over every other midfielder with Torreira closely behind (0.72). This is mainly because whenever he is on the pitch, he is heavily involved in pressing situations.
Only Jorginho attempts more forward passes per 90 (29.1) than Fabinho (21.47). In detail, Fabinho’s number of attempted forward passes per 90 illustrates his willingness to play on the front foot.
Surprisingly, Fernandinho averages more aerial duels per 90 (5.09) than Matić (3.7) and Fabinho (3.7) who are both much taller than the Manchester City midfielder.
In brief, it’s evident Fabinho is one of the most efficient DMFs within the top six this campaign while adjusting to one of the most challenging styles of play. On the contrary, Fernandinho has been the best DMF this season without a shadow of a doubt.
An eye for a pass
Liverpool fans have seen some impressive performances from Fabinho and some average ones, however, they were sure of his importance after the game against Manchester United.
Fabinho showcased his ability to be a creative outlet for Liverpool from a deeper position. This is something Liverpool have lacked since both Xabi Alonso and Steven Gerrard departed.
1. Fabinho receives the ball from Firmino from the left. He uses his instinctive vision anticipating that Mané makes the run in-behind.
2. Fabinho gets a lovely back-spin on the ball to float the ball over the Manchester United defensive line. As a result, the ball is cushioned onto Mané’s chest who smashes it into the back of the net past De Gea.
In comparison, Liverpool hasn’t had a deep-lying midfielder capable of play-making since the previously stated, Xabi Alonso and Steven Gerrard. Against Liverpool, opposition often relinquishes a lot of space in the area Fabinho is in the illustration above. Thus, a player like Fabinho with the innate ability to play a key pass from deep is essential.
So far this season, Fabinho has been Liverpool’s most effective midfielder from a defensive standpoint. Per game, he wins more tackles (1.9) and interceptions (1) than any other Liverpool midfielder so far this campaign in the EPL.
In addition, he tallies the most blocks (0.4) and clearances (1.1) of any Liverpool midfielder in the EPL.
Against Red Star Belgrade
Fabinho made his full 90-min debut for Liverpool in the Champions League against Red Star Belgrade at Anfield. Liverpool fans fell in-love with Fabinho after this game. He had an impressive performance winning 9/12 tackles attempted and five ball recoveries.
1. Here we see that Fabinho senses danger once Joe Gomez accidentally passes the ball to an opposition defender.
2. Fabinho quickly recovers and does his best to get back into position as Joe Gomez has his hands full with the striker on his shoulder.
3. Fabinho is able to get back and win the challenge, protecting his team from the counter-attack.
In those three successive actions, we see Fabinho’s natural ability to spot danger, recover, and win the challenge.
After an initial tough few months at Liverpool, Fabinho is repaying Klopp’s faith in him. He is now putting in performances that are making him virtually un-droppable. Fabinho can break up play, provide forward thrust via passing, and play a multiple number of positions. Without Fabinho, Liverpool could be struggling defensively. Primarily due to his inherent ability to put a foot in and get Liverpool back on the front foot.
He was one of the most highly-rated defensive midfielders in Europe not too long ago. Winning Ligue 1 with Monaco, and getting to the Champions League semi-finals in 16/17, he is undoubtedly a top-class player. On the other hand, Fabinho is only 24 and will learn a lot at Liverpool under Jürgen Klopp. It will be mouth-watering to see what he and Naby Keïta can conjure next season. Should they play next to each other in a double pivot that is.
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