As the saying goes, ‘Where there’s smoke, there’s fire’. However, in the case of Fábio Henrique Tavares, otherwise known as Fabinho, there’s no smoke - no one at the club or those close to him has alluded to the defensive midfielder’s state of mind around lack of game time or indicated that he may move elsewhere in the near future. Yet, wherever you look online, there seems to be an article about Fabinho’s boredom at Liverpool or being out of favour with Jürgen Klopp, and it’s crystal clear that these articles are grasping at invisible straws.
Fabinho became Liverpool’s first signing of the 2018-19 Summer transfer window when he joined the club on 29 May 2018 in a GBP 43,7 million, four year deal from AS Monaco FC. At the time Fabinho said, “I am really excited about this move. This is something that I always wanted. This is a giant of a team. A football club of this size coming after my services, I didn’t have to think that much about coming over. I will try to create my own history at this football club. Hopefully on a personal level, I’m able to win titles with this club.”
After we signed Fabinho (who officially became a Liverpool player effective 1 July 2018), Jürgen Klopp said, “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. He has a lovely family also - adding a person like this to our dressing room only makes us even stronger. What we have - in terms of our environment at Melwood and in the team - means anyone coming in must be of that build. They must be the highest quality person and player. He has ability and mentality to play at the highest level in a number of positions. He can play ‘6’, ‘8’ and ‘2’. This is cool.”
In July 2018, Klopp stated that the Liverpool collective would need to have patience and that there would be a waiting period before Fabinho would get regular football, saying: “You have seen it a little bit with Fabinho, that he needs to settle – he’s a little bit too deep between the centre-halves. We do it differently to Monaco. You can push him into position but because it’s natural for him moments later he’s again deep. That shows he needs time to adapt to different styles.”
Klopp has reiterated this in several press conferences since July 2018, but somehow, despite that, the rumour mongering has continued. In October 2018, Klopp had this to say about Fabinho:
‘He has had to adapt to the style of play. If you watch Fabinho playing at Monaco, (he was) full of confidence. You come to a new club and it depends a bit on your personality.
He’s not the loudest person on the planet, it’s not that he’s come in and said, ‘Sit down all of you and I’ll explain to you how we played at Monaco because we were in Champions League semi-final the year before and became French champions’. He is looking, watching and it always takes a little bit of time. That’s how it is. But on the pitch, he is back now and that’s good. So, all fine.
You see all the qualities. Hard challenger, good in one-on-one situations, offensively, defensively quick, good shooter, fantastic set-pieces, good header, all these things. Strategically good in the right moment. But, in a different system, and a different way we play, just different, and that’s what then always needs time to adapt, that’s all.
I’ve said it a few times, we cannot – I cannot – shorten that time (it takes to settle into the system). Maybe somebody can, I can’t. You come in my team, it most of the time needs a bit of time.
Fabinho spoke with Sky Sports on 6 November 2018 and while he did say that he was not completely settled at the club as yet, he did say that he felt that he was on the right track to adapting to England:
I’m still adapting to here but I believe that I’m now used to the football style, especially when it comes to the intensity of the game which is really different from the league that I came from. Also, I’m feeling well at the club. I can communicate well with my team-mates, even though my English isn’t great. The language barrier is one of the issues so far. Regarding the managers, I’m adapted to their training sessions and I’m comfortable with that. I’m now playing more regularly, which is also important. I’m on the right track to completely adapting to England.
Most recently, Klopp said: “Because the game is so quick and intense, it needs to get natural. It’s not about changing these players, we want their football personality. They are here because of what they did. Three or five weeks sound like a long time in football, but to improve something you can give half a year, to really make the next step. That’s it.”
I think it is safe to say that, Fabinho, like several players before him, needs time to find his rhythm within the squad. We have seen some really good football from him already, but it’s all about learning the style of play and adapting to that, and, like all new jobs it usually takes three to six months to find your groove. At the end of the day, Fabinho is having to adapt to several factors at his new job which includes the company, his colleagues, not to mention that he also has had to adapt to living in a new country and learning to speak the local language. However, time is on his, and our side. Fabinho is only 24 years old and has a lot to offer the club. He also has two Brazilian team mates to keep him from getting too home sick and above all, his wife Rebeca Tavares absolutely loves Liverpool and has become the official darling of the Twitter LFC fan base. If you’re somehow still doubtful about Fabinho’s future after this article, James Pearce has also reiterated that Fabinho is staying put.
However, if you needed further proof, have a look at Rebeca’s response in an appropriately annoyed GIF, when she was asked what she thought about Sunday’s Mirror Football article which stated that Liverpool were prepared to sell Fabinho in order to fund a move for Christian Pulisic.
I think that settles it. Fabinho isn’t going anywhere except into Liverpool’s starting 11 as soon as he and Klopp feel that he is 100% ready to do so. What more could we realistically ask for?!