Gary Neville believes Liverpool star Fabinho is the best defensive midfielder around right now.
The Brazil international has started the new season in fine form, playing a starring role as Liverpool have beaten Norwich, Southampton, Arsenal, Burnley and Newcastle to go five points clear at the top of the Premier League table.
Is Fabinho football’s best defensive midfielder? Five things to know…
- Fabinho joined Liverpool from Monaco for £39m in May 2018.
- Since then, no Liverpool midfielder has made more tackles (72) than him.
- But Neville believes it’s his ability to win and progress the ball vertically which makes him stand out.
- However, Fabinho (451) sits well behind Jorginho (1027) and Fernandinho (597) for passes ending in the final third in the Premier League since joining Liverpool.
- Last season, assistant Pep Lijnders called Fabinho a “lighthouse” inside Liverpool’s “organised chaos”.
Fabinho has made more tackles (13) than any other Liverpool player so far this season but it’s his ability to play vertically, winning the ball higher up the pitch and playing more progressive passes than his counterparts, that has really impressed Neville.
“I think Fabinho at the moment is the best (defensive midfielder out there),” he told Sky Sports on Monday.
“Because what Fabinho does, actually, is he doesn’t sit back in games.
“There are holding midfield players who just play horizontally, pass sideways, and they always shift this way and that way like they’re shuttling across.
“Fabinho plays vertically as well. He goes forward with his passes, he moves forward and steps in and wins the ball back.”
Since the start of last season, Fabinho has played 451 passes ending in the final third and won possession in the opposition’s final third eight times in the Premier League.
However, he is far outstripped by the likes of Jorginho (1027 & 24) and Fernandinho (597 & 11) in these metrics.
That said, the Brazil international took some time to truly adjust to the Premier League and since that happened, he has been almost flawless for the Reds, unlocking the true potential of the likes of Jordan Henderson and Georginio Wijnaldum.
Fabinho: We are Champions League favourites again
Jurgen Klopp’s side begin the defence of their Champions League crown away at Napoli on Tuesday and having already reached the final in two consecutive seasons, Fabinho believes the Reds will be among the favourites once again.
“[We are] one of the favourites, I think,” he told the club’s official magazine.
Subscribe to Squawka’s Youtube channel here.
“The reigning champion is always the favourite and given Liverpool’s run of form over the last two competitions, we must be considered one of the main contenders.
“But it doesn’t put any additional pressure on us, we know how to deal with it, we know how to handle the pressure. It won’t be a problem.
“The Champions League is the toughest competition in Europe with all the best teams involved. We’ll do everything to qualify for the round of 16. It’s a case of taking things step by step.”