Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson has revealed the message he gave to teammate Fabinho after his compatriot’s display against Chelsea in the Premier League earlier this season.
Alisson says that he told Fabinho he would become a defender after his excellent performance at centre-back against the Blues at Stamford Bridge. Fabinho filled in at centre-back as Liverpool won 2-0, and has subsequently been deployed there against both Ajax and Sheffield United in recent matches.
Speaking to Esporte Inveravito, as transcribed by Sport Witness, Alisson commented on Fabinho’s positional change. “In the game against Chelsea, after his fantastic performance, I told him ‘you’ll become a defender, you’ll become a defender’, I joked with him. ‘If you play well in the back, you’ll become a defender’.
“Now it happened because he needed to be playing there. And Fabinho is a versatile player, he can play as a fullback, midfielder, defender. Perhaps you give him the gloves, he’ll do well in the goal too. He’s an ace. The way of moving is different for him. But the good thing is that he runs less, and he sees the game from a better perspective, always the game to the front. Usually he gets the ball on his back so he can make the turn, now he can get a better view. And he’s a guy who also adapts to any position and has helped us a lot.”
ANFIELD WATCH VERDICT
Fabinho’s performances in defence have been more impressive than his ones in midfield this season, which does make Alisson’s half-joke seem fairly accurate. The Brazillian has averaged a WhoScored rating of 6.58 in central midfield for Liverpool this season, compared to a superb 7.47 at centre-back – playing three games in both positions. What makes that statistic even more impressive is that he was marked down as a 6.26 against Sheffield United due to giving away a penalty, despite the debate over whether or not it was even the right decision by the referee.
This shows that Fabinho has been more effective as a centre-back this season and it could lead to Jurgen Klopp opting to play him there more in the future. Having a player who can excel in two positions is a great problem for Klopp to have, though, as it allows him to further rotate his team and pick Fabinho’s position to suit specific matches.
For example, he might feel that Fabinho at centre-back in a game where Liverpool are expected to dominate possession can allow him to have a more creative midfield player in the team to unlock the defence. Whereas, if Liverpool are facing a Manchester City or a Bayern Munich – in the Champions League – then Fabinho’s defensive presence in the midfield could be needed.