Jurgen Klopp has admitted that he contemplated changing Liverpool’s formation to get Fabinho into his Liverpool side.
The Brazilian arrived from Ligue 1 side Monaco for £43.7million in May 2018 and the midfielder took time to settle into life in the Premier League and only last month described how hard life was under the German.
Now though the midfield pivot is one of Klopp’s first names on the team sheet and the German coach has acknowledged the importance of his role at Anfield.
Klopp said: “The Genk game was a perfect example because he was very important it was clear they (Keita and Oxlade-Chamberlain) wouldn’t be perfectly tuned, they have hardly played. Fab had a lot to do to sort the gaps we left in some situations. The job of the number six in football is so incredibly important and the more attacking player you have the more important it is. He is not just a gap-closer, a challenger, he is a very good footballer as well.
“I am sure the next player we sign and he doesn’t start straight away you will not asking why and how. Maybe I will remind you that Fabinho needed time and I will remind you of that. At the time I thought we would have to change the system to use a double number six midfield like he was used to at Monaco, but in that game (Genk) he played as the only midfielder in some moments.
” He just needed time. He is 26 now, 10 more proper years at least, he can improve, but so far he plays really well.”
Asked whether Fabinho would need protecting after featuring in every Premier League and Champions League game to date, Klopp said: “Yes we can, but he only flies in international breaks, he doesn’t play!”
Asked if that surprised him that Fabinho does not play for Brazil, he added:” Look I don’t want to create headlines. It’s difficult in my life to not create headlines, but I don’t want to create headlines in Brazil. So no comment,” said Klopp smiling.
“Two others play both games like Gini and Hendo. But we have others to play Fabinho’s position.”
Next up for Liverpool is Tottenham at Anfield on Sunday, and Klopp has not been lulled into a false sense of security by Spurs’ struggle in the Premier League.
“Spurs’ situation, I cannot judge. I have no idea. Football is like this. They have not forgot how to play football, Harry Kane, Son, Alli, Eriksen, you cannot understand it from outside but they can play a proper performance. We won CL final, it was respectful night.
“It’s a football game between two really good teams. We will not be that confident that nothing can happen to us. They will not play like a team with their points tally. They are a top side and we have to respect that,” Klopp added.