Liverpool suffered a huge blow by losing the in-form Fabinho to injury. The question now is how worried should they really be?
Ever since completing a €45m transfer from AS Monaco in 2018, Fabinho has proven to be a vital cog in the Liverpool line-up. His impact, in fact, goes beyond simple numbers and it’s no wonder why everyone’s worried.
You could actually hear an audible groan from the Anfield crowd when the Brazilian came off in the 19th-minute of Wednesday’s 1-1 Champions League draw against Napoli with an ankle injury.
The point alone was a blow for Liverpool already as it cost them the chance to book a last-16 spot in the competition.
But all thoughts were instead on Fabinho’s injury, with even the usually cheerful Jurgen Klopp feeling downbeat afterwards.
A medical report on Friday then confirmed Liverpool’s worst fears as it ruled out Fabinho until the New Year. It couldn’t have come at a worse time considering the club’s hectic schedule.
Few would’ve imagined that Fabinho would become such an essential member of the Reds last year. It took him a while to find his feet before he came alive about mid-way into the previous campaign.
The impressive 26-year-old soon took over captain Jordan Henderson’s deep-lying role to become Liverpool’s go-to-guy for putting the brakes on opposition attackers, or to act like another centre-back.
It played a vital role in the club’s Champions League title, and their challenge for the Premier League last season.
WhoScored stats actually show us that Fabinho has averaged a team-best of 2.5 tackles per game this season. He’s also got a better average than Virgil van Dijk in terms of interceptions, with 1.7 per game compared to the Dutchman’s 1.
The Brazil international isn’t doing badly on the offensive front either having helped create several opportunities for his team-mates.
That long-range screamer against Manchester City this month also proved what a beast Fabinho can be from outside the box as well.
Replacements for Liverpool
As we’ve already mentioned, Fabinho’s ankle injury couldn’t have come at a worst moment for Klopp. The Reds boss now has a difficult task of selecting a similar defensive midfielder ahead of a congestive run of fixtures.
A run of 11 games without a single clean sheet across all competitions doesn’t help either.
“Absolutely bad news,” said Klopp on Friday’s pre-match conference ahead of the Brighton game.
“Nothing good to say about that. About a timeframe or how long it will take, we are not sure.
“But it looks pretty sure that he will not be involved in the Christmas fixtures. It obviously takes a while.”
After this afternoon’s match against Brighton, Liverpool will play nine matches throughout December.
These will involve a Merseyside derby against Everton, along with trips to Premier League high-flyers Leicester City and the Champions League’s surprise package RB Salzburg.
And should Fabinho’s injury woes continue in January, then Klopp may have to make do without him for the Tottenham and Manchester United games.
The most likely men to stand-up in Fabinho’s absence will be Georginio Wijnaldum or Henderson. In fact, the latter could be the most likely one given his past experience in the Brazilian’s position.
Although it may also provide Adam Lallana with a way back into the Liverpool team. The former Southampton player has struggled to re-insert him into Klopp’s plans following a long-term hamstring injury.
Lallana even revealed earlier this season that he had been shadowing Fabinho.