Klopp heaps praise on ‘very important’ Fabinho
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has singled out Fabinho as the man who holds his midfield together.
The German tactician has been boosted by the recent return to fitness of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Naby Keita in midfield and that allowed him to play an attacking XI in the 4-1 midweek Champions League win over Genk.
However, that game was not without its issues as Fabinho, who covered the most distance of any player on the night, was left to patrol the wide open spaces as his team-mates pushed forward and the Reds were, at times, left exposed.
Klopp accepted as much but he has so much faith in Brazil international Fabinho he has not ruled out revisiting the same midfield three in the future.
“The Genk game was a good example of how important he is. Very!” he said.
“Fabi had a lot to do to sort some little gaps which we left open. In that (Genk) game he played as pretty much the only midfielder in some moments. But he is not only a gap-closer and a challenger, he is a very good footballer as well.”
Since establishing himself in the side about 12 months ago after a slow start to his debut season, Fabinho’s importance to the side cannot be under-estimated.
He has started 13 of 15 matches so far this season – one of the games he missed was the Carabao Cup tie against MK Dons when most of the first team were given the night off – and 40 of the last 48 in all competitions.
Klopp would not admit it publicly but he must be secretly delighted that, despite his impressive performances, Brazil coach Tite chooses not to play him when he calls him up for the international team.
He admits, however, the 26-year-old will have to be rested at some point.
Fabinho will start at home to Tottenham on Sunday but that game is likely to see the return of Georginio Wijnaldum and Jordan Henderson alongside him in the middle of the park, despite Oxlade-Chamberlain’s two-goal performance in midweek.