By 90Min
September 30, 2018

The fact that it took so long for Fabinho, Liverpool's £40m Brazilian signing, to start a match is one of very few criticisms that have been levelled at Jurgen Klopp's management so far this season.

His start in the 2-1 Carabao Cup defeat to Chelsea at Anfield came just one week after his first appearance as a fleeting substitute in the 3-2 win over PSG - his first appearance in a Reds shirt after sitting out the previous five league games.

Although Klopp has been more than happy to explain his absence, saying simply that he has taken time to adjust to English football and adapt to Liverpool's high intensity style of football, it's a situation that even in the midst of the club's fantastic start to the season seems to have stuck in the craw of some fans.

And that's understandable. His signing came as a surprise at the beginning of the summer, serving as some welcome good news in the wake of the crushing Champions League final defeat, and he was supposed to be the midfield addition that offered the ideal defensive counterpoint to the arrival of Naby Keita.

As yet, it hasn't worked out that way. Instead, the midfield trio of KeitaGeorginio Wijnaldum and James Milner has been almost unshakeable, with Jordan Henderson and the flair of Xherdan Shaqiri sporadically thrown in for good measure.

And it's a system that has worked terrifically, as the Reds have won six and drawn one - against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge - of their seven Premier League matches, in which Fabinho hasn't featured.

The question that comes from this, then, is should Klopp be criticised for his reluctance to throw  his new signing into the side, or should he instead be applauded for not buckling, and sticking with the formula that has proved so successful so far?

Sure, you could argue that any £40m signing should be first team ready before the seven game mark, and if he isn't, then that's a failure in the recruitment policy. If only football was that simple, though.

Jean Catuffe/GettyImages

Klopp is simply doing what he feels is best with the players he sees in training every week, without considering the price tags on their heads. In modern football management, rife with ego management and knee-jerk decisions, that is surely an admirable trait.

It's not as if his transfer record is up for debate in recent years. Prior to the Reds 2018 summer transfer spree, Mohamed Salah, Virgil van Dijk, Andy Robertson and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain represent Klopp's most recent major signings, and they have worked out extraordinarily well. 

It's those last two perhaps more than any that foreshadow the fate of Fabinho. Neither looked a particularly convincing signing at first, and went long spells without any football, but ended up being crucial to Liverpool's run to the Champions League final - proof that patience can pay off if the player's attitude is right.

Players who are humble, honest, and hard working seem to be the success stories of Klopp's management. The story of Salah and the recent revival of Daniel Sturridge, seemingly content to put the team ahead of himself and do his bit from the bench, point to that.

What, then, of Fabinho? While others may moan in the same situation, the Brazilian seems more than happy to keep his head down and wait for his opportunity, understanding that there is a pecking order, and it will take time for him to adjust and climb it.

He will know he has the quality, having starred at the centre of Monaco's midfield in Ligue 1 and the Champions League alike, but he hasn't thrown his toys out of the pram. If he has, the Liverpool hierarchy have done a good job of hiding it.

There has been nothing, as yet, to suggest he won't be an eventual success at Liverpool - the only question is the timescale. But the longer he waits, the hungrier he will be when his opportunity comes, and the more ready he will be for the challenges of Premier League football.

It's a cliche, but there is a lot of football still to be played, especially if the Reds are to fulfil their expected potential and compete for trophies this season.

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