The Brazilian-shaped elephant in the room at Liverpool Football Club so far this season, even while the team is on an impressive seven game winning streak, is the fact that new midfielder Fabinho has not yet played any significant minutes. When the holding midfielder arrived at Anfield from Monaco this summer for a fee of around £39 million, many assumed that he would be someone who could slot right into Klopp’s plans.
Patience is a virtue, however, and after nearly two months of the season, the 24-year-old is still being groomed by Klopp to play in the style he prefers. He did something similar with both Andy Roberston and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain last season to good effect, and it’s hoped that Fabinho’s introduction will be as impressive.
So how’s that development going anyway?
“It’s not different between him and other players,” Klopp said. “It’s really not complicated, only you need to get used to it. It’s about positioning, it’s about reaction, it’s about spaces – defensively, closing them; offensively, use them.”
Klopp continued, giving us a little look into the thinking at Melwood, “It’s a football team with a specific way of playing. That always needs time and they were all used to other football teams. So, you have natural runs in a team. A very famous movement at Liverpool was Phil Coutinho: half-left, inside, nice shot. For this one, to make it really difficult to defend, you needed somebody for overlapping so that one defender is busy. Things like that, only to explain a little bit.”
The additional time it’s taking for Fabinho to adapt himself to this new style, according to the boss is “completely normal. It’s always different but it will happen because it’s not really difficult, it’s only because the game is so quick and so intense, it needs to get natural. At the end, it’s not about changing these players or changing their football personality. They are here because they did what they did. But now we have to work on that it fits. Three, four, five weeks only in football sounds like a really long period. Otherwise, you would always say to improve something give it half a year or whatever to really make the next step in your career. That’s it, nothing else.”
It’s expected that Fabinho’s much-anticipated debut will be in Wednesday’s League Cup match against Chelsea, but it’s entirely possible that Klopp surprises us and continues to hold off for a little longer. Either way, it’s safe to say that Klopp has earned our confidence when it comes to spotting and nurturing talent.