By 90Min
October 02, 2019

In the wake of their Champions League final heartache in 2018, as fans wiped away their tears, the Liverpool hierarchy was already busy plotting a calculated response. Just weeks after their loss to Real Madrid in Kiev, the Reds swooped to sign then Monaco defensive midfielder Fabinho in a deal reported to be worth just shy of £40m.

It was a refreshingly under-the-radar signing, in an age of endless sagas, and a ruthlessly efficient piece of business by Michael Edwards and his crack team at Anfield. 

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Just over 12 months later, the Reds would be crowned European champions with Fabinho well and truly installed at the base of Liverpool's midfield, shielding the back four with staggering efficiency and discipline. 

His form has continued into 2019/20 as his side have raced to a five-point lead at the top of table with seven straight wins. West Ham star and fellow defensive midfielder Declan Rice became the latest admire of the Brazilian ace, recently heralding him as the best in the world in his position. 

On current form, it is hard to argue with Rice's observation. Fabinho has gone from strength to strength for this Liverpool team and is now an automatic starter for Jurgen Klopp.

His importance in Liverpool's starting XI was highlighted during the recent, very hard-fought, victory over Sheffield United at Bramall Lane. The 25-year-old clocked up nine recoveries, four key tackles and three interceptions as the league leaders saw off the sternest challenge they'd faced so far this season. 

Despite a heavier than normal workload, the Brazilian remained unruffled or panicked. His intelligent reading of the game and stoic discipline in the number six role emits a calm aura that seeps into the players around him. 

The Brazil international alluded to this in a recent interview on Liverpool's official website. Fabinho said: “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 and 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."

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These words should strike a chord with Liverpool fans everywhere. They are indicative of a player who is focused and committed to the job tasked him, as well as possessing admirable tactical awareness. It is perhaps what stands the Brazilian up as the best in class in his position. 

The defensive midfield role is one of largely thankless tasks, with dominating centre backs and dynamic full backs often enjoying a more celebrated status in the game. However, Fabinho's importance and current form for Liverpool cannot be played down. 

Fabinho was eased into the action at Anfield as Klopp allowed his big-money signing time to adapt to his frenetic style of pressing play.

However, after this slow start - one that raised one or two concerned eyebrows in the press - he has since established himself as the bedrock of Liverpool's midfield and a natural, arguably more refined, heir to his predecessors Javier Mascherano or Dietmar Hamann.

On current form, he is comfortably one of the best in the business and the numbers go some way to backing this up. A tackle success rate of 71% from his opening seven Premier League matches is pretty slick. 

It is all the more eye-catching when compared with Manchester City's Rodri who lags behind on 53% and Leicester City's Wilfred Ndidi on just 45%, albeit from more tackles attempted by the Nigerian. Only Chelsea's Jorginho boasts better accuracy as it stands but the Italian's shift is clearly busier at the heart of a leaky defence for Frank Lampard's men.

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He may be a top-class destroyer of play but the boy from Brazil is clearly a footballer too. With 36 accurate long balls in seven league games thus far showing he is more than comfortable in breaking the lines and chipping in with his share of the creative play as well. 


His neat passing and energetic tempo also allow Liverpool to transition with the lightning speed which has become a hallmark of their play under their German manager. 


As further testament to his overall quality and influence, Liverpool are yet to lose a match in which Fabinho has started.

Having a player with the quality of Fabinho in the team has allowed Liverpool to mature beautifully as a defensive unit, while his position is the bedrock upon which the Reds' attacking stars can flourish.

They may have kept just two clean sheets in the Premier League so far this season, but with a number six as talented as Fabinho shielding their back four Liverpool have the capacity to close out matches and win ugly which is what any title-winning side needs to have in its DNA. 

As the Reds continue to grow and evolve under Klopp it is clear that Fabinho is well on the way to establishing himself as the best defensive midfielder in the world. 

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