The Reds have confirmed the signing of the Monaco midfielder but where will he fit into Klopp’s plans?
Liverpool caught everybody unaware with the signing of Fabinho on Monday evening.
The Monaco midfielder will move to Anfield on July 1 after the Reds struck a deal worth a guaranteed €45million (£39.3m), plus up to €5m (£4.4m) in add-ons.
He becomes the second confirmed signing of the summer, joining Naby Keita, whose move from RB Leipzig was agreed last summer.
With Emre Can’s move to Juventus on the brink of completion, and strong interest in Lyon captain Nabil Fekir, Jurgen Klopp is set to completely overhaul his midfield ahead of the new season.
But what do the arrivals of Fabinho and Keita mean for the Reds’ current players? Who should be worried about their place?
Here’s a look at how the new-look Liverpool could line up for the 2018/19 season…
The most likely move is for Klopp to stick with his tried and trusted 4-3-3 formation, the one which has served him pretty well throughout his managerial career.
The question then becomes ‘which of his current crop finds themselves benched?’
At most risk will be captain Jordan Henderson, whose role as the deepest-lying midfield player will be challenged by the excellent Fabinho. Keita, it is imagined, will slot in as a scuttling ‘No.8’ which will leave one or both of Gini Wijnaldum and James Milner on the sidelines. Emre Can, as discussed, will join Juventus while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is sidelined until at least November with a knee injury.
Should Fekir also join, it could see Liverpool starting the new campaign with an entirely new midfield three, which would be very interesting indeed – particularly given the calibre of all three players.
Of course Henderson’s status as captain could complicate matters. The England international remains a favourite of Klopp’s, if not all supporters.
Could he and Fabinho play together? Of course they could. There have been games this season when two deep-lying midfielders may have been useful, offering Liverpool greater protection when their full-backs and front players fly forward.
Keita, though an all-rounder, has been signed to add attacking thrust and could certainly play as the furthest forward in a midfield three, or alongside Fabinho in a two. The Fekir deal will still require plenty of work before being completed but he would be an ideal No.10 signing to replace Philippe Coutinho.
The key is options, and Liverpool have plenty with this signing – especially as Fabinho can, if required, play as an attack-minded right-back too.
How about something a bit more outlandish?
Three-man defences have enjoyed a renaissance across Europe over the last couple of seasons, used to good effect by some very good sides. Chelsea won the Premier League with the a 3-4-3 system, for example, while Juventus, Bayern Munich and even Manchester City have all experimented.
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Liverpool have the personnel to try it, though they would need to sign an extra centre back if they were to commit to it.
Fabinho and Keita would form the midfield axis, with Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson as wing backs. The front three, then would be free to release even more havoc with fewer defensive responsibilities.
Unlikely, perhaps, but a mouth-watering prospect nonetheless.