Fabinho’s rise up the Liverpool food chain was a slow and steady one that took a full half a season to really take effect. The Brazilian needed some time to bed into the system before he was entrusted by Klopp to play in the midfield, and then by necessity, the defense.
But since being given the opportunity, Fabinho has risen to the occasion, putting in a series of impressive performances at some stressful times during the course of the season.
Naby Keïta, by contrast, is another new player who was seen by some as an instant addition to the starting XI. However, that hasn’t proved to be the case, and in fact, his opportunities have not been as plentiful as Fabinho.
Keïta has been gracious about this, though, stating that Fabinho’s ascent is an inspiration to him.
“I’m very happy for him. At the beginning he wasn’t playing much but he worked hard, he never gave up and he was always there for the team. The last match, he put in a great performance,” he said.
“That’s what we’re here for – to work hard and try to earn our place in the team. Midfield is an area where we have a lot of options, so that means no-one wants to get injured or give up their place. That’s an important thing for the team. When you’re in the team you know already how strong the bench is so you need to give absolutely everything in the game.
“I wasn’t surprised at all by Fabinho’s performance. In training the coach is there for everyone and training is always good. It’s down to us to keep focused and play well in every match.”
Regarding his own future, Keïta emphasized his willingness to fight for a place in the team.
“I’m someone who likes to respond to a challenge, I never give up or stop trying, even if things were a little bit more difficult at the beginning. I was in and out of the side but I was always with the team because if the team win, we all win together – even if I haven’t played. I have a collective spirit.”
Liverpool fans still hope that Keïta will become the player they were all hoping he’d be when the club signed him. We’ve seen some good performances from him, as well as pull off some genuinely impressive feats, but his lack of playing time has made those things inconsistent. There’s still plenty of time left in the season for him to have an impact, and the midfield situation remains fluid enough that it would be unsurprising to see Keïta get several games in a row.