Liverpool entered February in the midst of an injury crisis with major players coming down seemingly every match with some sort of knock. It was a drag on the fan base and certainly left a bit of a rueful hue on what was, otherwise, a generally rosy time. Liverpool, after all, were top of the league.
In the time since, Liverpool has managed to maintain that position. And with it, players have started returning to the fold with the center back crisis - and the one across the defensive line - seemingly dissipating. Still, there was one last match that required a bit of a patchwork fix as the mid-week tilt against Bayern Munich featured the pairing of Joel Matip and Fabinho in the center of the Liverpool defense.
To his credit the Brazilian acquitted himself with a performance that rarely saw him put a foot wrong all night. With Virgil Van Dijk being available for selection after sitting that match out due to card accumulation, many people have wondered if that positive cameo against Bayern might lead to having Fabinho spend more time at center back.
Klopp’s response to these inquiries indicates that he sees Fabinho as a midfielder first.
“It’s brilliant to have him as an option for both positions, but his natural position is in midfield. That he can play centre-half makes him an unbelievably valuable player for us. We knew last year we’d lose Emre Can, who is a similar profile. It was so important, it was always the plan that we’d have [Fabinho] for that as well. With four centre-halves, we didn’t think we’d have to use him there actually.”
Klopp later went on to elaborate that Fabinho’s turn there was brought on as an emergency replacement for Virgil and the aforementioned injury issues. Similar to Emre, Fabinho, it appears, is going to be played mainly at center mid.
Which is fine by me because his performances as the holding midfielder have been a revelation. His ability to rake a pass and use his length to cut out and harry attackers has been a delight to watch. It will be a net gain, then, to see the Brazilian international lineup in the holding role and rotate among the likes of Jordan Henderson.