Fabinho takes Liverpool one step closer to Premier League title
The £39m deal bringing Fabinho to Anfield puts the Reds in a strong position to challenge Manchester City for the title.
Linked, negotiated and signed all within an hour. Such efficient business from Liverpool following Saturday’s Champions League final defeat to Real Madrid.
Brazilian midfielder Fabinho will join the Reds for a deal that could be worth more than £40m, somewhat lifting the gloom inevitably descending on the city following their 3-1 defeat.
Klopp’s squad was exposed for a lack of depth against Real Madrid, hence the importance of adding further strength to compliment their starting XI.
With Fabinho joining Naby Keita, imminently arriving from RB Leipzig, and further signings to follow, Jurgen Klopp is wasting no time in ensuring Liverpool are in a strong position to challenge Manchester City for next season’s Premier League title.
A balanced midfield
Fabinho arrives from Monaco as more than just a replacement for the departing Emre Can, but provides a crucial balance to Liverpool’s midfield.
Capable of playing as either a six or an eight, as well as right back, Fabinho can support both Jordan Henderson and Gini Wijnaldum, whilst offering a complimentary style of play to the more adventurous Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Manchester City’s brilliance was largely down to the roaming pair of eights, David Silva and Kevin de Bruyne. Whilst Liverpool’s midfield strength is predicated on different attributes to that of City, Pep Guardiola’s outfit highlighted the importance of strength in depth in midfield.
A trio of Wijnaldum, Henderson and James Milner were dominated by Real Madrid on the weekend, but adding Keita and Fabinho significantly lessens a chance of recurrence. Both players have fantastic ball retention abilities and look to play passes beyond the ‘safe’ option.
To put that into context, in their respective leagues, both Keita (37) and Fabinho (30) created more chances than Henderson (20) and assisted more goals combined (8) than the Reds’ captain (1). Fabinho, too, completed more forward passes (1126) than Henderson (1115).
Henderson, too, completed a measly eight take-ons in the Premier League, whilst Fabinho’s 34 and Keita’s 67 demonstrate a desire to drive forwards and progress the ball quickly in keeping with Klopp’s fast-paced football.
One of the major criticisms levelled against Klopp is that he’s a one-trick pony, unable of tweaking his 4-3-3 formation to match the demands of a particular game. Saturday’s defeat was a case in point in this regard.
The match called out for a formation allowing Liverpool to regain a foothold in the game and compensate for the loss of Mo Salah.
The Reds’ options on the bench didn’t exactly provide for this ability, one problem addressed by the addition of Fabinho, but, perhaps more importantly, it means Klopp can deploy a 4-2-3-1 or 4-4-2 given the Brazilian’s flexibility.
The first of many
Fabinho and Keita are just the first of an onslaught of new signings expected at Anfield over the summer, with goalkeeper Alisson and Lyon forward Nabil Fekir also heavily linked.
Loris Karius’ two errors in the Champions League final against Real Madrid were clear evidence of the upgrade required between the sticks, and Roma’s Alisson provides the remedy.
Liverpool have similarly been repeatedly linked with Lyon’s Nabil Fekir, an attacking midfielder capable of playing on the wing. The impact of this signing cannot be understated. Not only does it provide the Reds with a number ten replacement for Philippe Coutinho, Fekir can support Salah and Sadio Mane out wide.
Salah’s injury horrifically exposed Liverpool’s lack of ‘Plan B’ for when one of their wingers is unable to play, further highlighting their reliance on certain players and systems. Fekir resolves this issue with another source of goals and assists.
The best position
This is a crucial summer for Liverpool.
The general consensus appears to be that Liverpool are in the best position of any other top four side to challenge Manchester City for the Premier League title and their signings thus far suggest just that.
Crucially, Klopp has made efforts to remedy key areas and improve their strength in depth with signings that not only upgrade on their existing personnel, but offer a means of tactical flexibility.