Lijnders: Fabinho among trio Liverpool are ‘lucky’ to have
Liverpool assistant manager Pep Lijnders has hailed Fabinho’s attributes, naming him alongside two teammates the Reds are “lucky” to have at their disposal.
The Brazilian has been a vital part of Liverpool’s success in recent times and covered well for the Reds in the centre of defence in the absence of Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez.
But Lijnders says the team will benefit from his return to his natural position in midfield.
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The Brazil midfielder was a vital part of the Reds’ midfield and provided a platform in the engine room which gave other players around him the opportunity to flourish while Jurgen Klopp’s side won the Champions League and Premier League titles.
This term, due to a relentless injury crisis, Fabinho has been forced to show his mastery in the heart of defence – though was moved back to his preferred No.6 position in the 2-0 European Cup win against RB Leipzig to demonstrate just why he is one of the best players in world football in the centre of the park, forcing the manager to re-think his tactics and leave Fabinho in midfield.
“We didn’t lose only our last line [due to injuries] – by losing our last line we lost our midfield as well,” Lijnders told the club’s official website.
“And that’s where we lost our engine, and that’s a big problem. It’s something that created doubt in many different tactical aspects.
“Many times small problems come from one big issue. If you try to solve the small problems you get nowhere, you have to solve the big issue. We always tried to find the solution, but the solution needs consistency, and that was the problem because there were always different and new problems coming and took the consistency away.
“We don’t measure ourselves with the past, but we have to understand what made us the team who nobody wants to play against. This is the main reason why we won.
“Coming back to Fabinho as the lighthouse, a proper ‘six’ just sees more, top teams and top players like Fabinho have in common that they have a huge spirit of initiative. That’s why when we speak about team development we are speaking indirectly about individual development – our idea forces this individual development.
“About Fabinho, I only want to say he has the capacity to make the players around him better. It’s really difficult to find players who have the talent to make the other ones flourish.
“There are just a few players in world football who have this natural capacity to stop counters, for example; most of them just tactically foul.
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“He just always puts the team above himself. By the way, all our Brazilians have this characteristic. Nobody likes them, everybody loves them.
“In the same package you get someone who is only concerned about making the team better, there is no space for ego. He is a real team player. Luckily we have three of them, Gini and Hendo have this characteristic as well.
“Having two midfielders like that is like the queen in the chess game. You lose the queen, who defends in offense. There is a reason why the better chess players just give up when they lose the queen.
“You need two who can control a game by being dominant without the ball. That’s what we are searching for.”