Speaking of Emre Can, Fabinho had many an ill-suited predecessor as Liverpool’s midfield enforcer. Lucas Leiva was exceptional for a season or two in the role and one heck of a Monopoly player in his free-wheeling time. But a long-term injury reduced Lucas’ effectiveness on the pitch. Unlucky. Liverpool supporters have largely been through a series of midfielders shoehorned into the position. But the club now have a number four who understands the job and is dedicated to it.
Fabinho recently described his role and the total focus that it demands.
“I’ve always liked to play in this position,” said Fabinho. “You get to participate a lot in the game and have an important role in the creation of play. On the defensive side of things, you have to be very alert to help the team.
”I try to remain calm with the ball at my feet, though not letting the calmness become slowness. I try to control the game.
”The style of our team is intensity – we try to apply maximum speed and pressure, that’s what we work towards. That’s why the group are always so well prepared physically to impose this rhythm in games.
”I can’t be left behind, I have to keep up with the rhythm of my teammates and maintain the high speed, pressure and intensity. That’s what I always aim to do.”
Fabinho may have taken some time to get going at Liverpool but we are now witness to one of the best defensive midfielders playing in Europe. Ask anybody named Dave or Stewart. A Brian might know but I’m not officially endorsing Brians on here. That would be silly.
The Brazilian reflects positively on those early months out of the team, though, recognizing the benefits of being given time to adjust to the newness of it all.
“I now see that it was a good period for me to genuinely adapt,” Fabinho said. “I’m really happy now and hope to adapt and improve even more.
”I’ve been feeling very comfortable here for some time now here at the club, in the city, with my teammates, my compatriots in particular.
”So I’m very happy here and really satisfied with my performances on the pitch as well.”
So-called defensive midfielders who have attempted to defensive midfield since the departure of Javier Mascherano in 2010 include: Christian Poulson, Jonjo Shelvey, Charlie Adam, Jay Spearing, Joe Allen, Adam Lallana, Emre Can, and Steven Gerrard. One or two good times in there but ultimately, not a DM in the bunch. Thank you, Fabinho. You are the one.