Who is Fabinho? All you need to know about Liverpool's latest signing and what it means for their midfield
Liverpool pulled a rabbit out of the hat on Monday evening when, within hours of speculation beginning, the Anfield club had officially unveiled the signing of Fabinho.
But what exactly do we know about him? Here's your guide.
All you need to know about Fabinho
Position: Central midfield. However, Jurgen Klopp is excited about the range of positions Fabinho can feature at, claiming he "can play '6', '8' and '2'."
Nationality: Brazilian (four caps)
Club career: Fluminense, Rio Ave, Real Madrid (loan), Monaco (loan), Monaco
Experienced beyond his years: Fabinho may only be 24, but he has already played regular top level football for years. He has started at least 33 Ligue 1 games in all of the last four seasons, scoring 23 league goals in that time. He has even played in a Champions League semi-final as his Monaco side were beaten by eventual runners-up Juventus 6-1 on aggregate in 2017.
Fabinho celebrates his Liverpool transfer on the plane, and he still hasn't taken his new top off - love him already! 🔴🇧🇷 pic.twitter.com/zFYfkQ8Te3— Empire of the Kop (@empireofthekop) May 29, 2018
Interest aplenty: Fabinho has long been linked with many of Europe's top clubs. The latest was Arsenal, who Sky Sports reporter Paul Gilmour claims put in a last gasp attempt to hijack Liverpool's move for the midfielder. That would make sense given that new Arsenal boss Unai Emery was long said to be an admirer during his time in charge of PSG. Rumours linking the Brazilian with a move to Manchester United have been doing the rounds for some time, although the Manchester Evening News claimed last summer that Jose Mourinho had opted instead to target Tottenham's Eric Dier and Nemanja Matic.
What Jurgen Klopp said about him: “We have signed a fantastic player, but someone who is an equally fantastic person I think. His reputation as a character in the dressing room and his attitude in training has come through from everyone we speak to."
What is his playing style? Fabinho has filled transfer gossip columns over the past few windows as a ball-winning central midfielder of some repute, but it was not always that way. Considered a right-back in his early days, it was not until the second half of the 2014-15 season that Leonardo Jardim moved him to the defensive midfield berth - which proved to be a masterstroke. A quick glance at Fabinho's physical profile and this positional change makes sound sense. At 6'2, he always looked a little bit too tall and rangy for a full-back. Fabinho was a midfield mainstay in Jardim's league-winning Monaco of 2016-17, typically partnering Tiémoué Bakayoko as the two deeper players in their 4-2-2-2 system. Bakayoko was generally the more progressive of the two in a box-to-box role, with Fabinho sweeping up behind and screening the centre-backs. His height and the position he plays will draw comparison with Steven Nzonzi and even compatriot Gilberto Silva. He ranked very highly in Ligue 1 last season for duel success, tackles won and aerial dominance. Breaking up play, reading the game and protecting his back four might be Fabinho's principal job but he can also play when he gets the ball.
What will Liverpool's midfield look like next season? Emre Can is set to depart on a Bosman, and you would expect both Fabinho and Keita to start given the investments made in them. That leaves one midfield slot up for grabs. This could be filled by a more progressive option, such as Fekir or Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, or Jordan Henderson or James Milner for a bit more defensive security. Henderson, Milner and Giogrinio Wijnaldum showed they are worthy of the shirt during Liverpool's Champions League run, but are likely to be rotational options next season as Liverpool look to mount a challenge on multiple fronts.
Belfast Telegraph Digital