Fabinho was signed in 2018 for £43m [Sky Sports] and in the five years he’s been at the club, the Brazillian has won basically everything.
Champions League, Premier League, Club World Cup, Super Cup, FA Cup, League Cup, and even the Community Shield.
But it looks unlikely he’ll get a chance to complete the set with the Europa League this term with Brazillian outlet Ge Globo confirming the player has agreed terms on a move to Saudi Arabian side Al-Ittihad, who are funded by the Saudi government investment fund PIF and will pay us £40m for the privilege.
Selling a player at 29 for the same money you signed him for at 24 would be good business if the player had maintained his level. But the fact Fabinho is on a serious downward trajectory makes it a no-brainer.
It’s no exaggeration to say that for the most part of last season, Fabinho was dreadful. This doesn’t undermine his once epic performances at the base of our midfield, but judging him on 2022/23 alone will not make for nice reading. He wasn’t injured. He played 36 Premier League games, but his sluggishness and inability to track a runner cost us time and time again. Fabinho has never been fast, but last term, he looked like one of the slowest footballers to ever grace Anfield, which affected us badly considering others have sprightly, younger midfielders who like to run through central areas.
His team-mates didn’t help much. Trent Alexander-Arnold was horrendous until his positional switch and Virgil van Dijk was far too lackadaisical, but Fabinho was the worst of a once world-class bunch.
You only had to look at Jurgen Klopp to see what our manager thought of Fabinho’s decline. On multiple occasions, he would go berserk at the anchorman from the touchline, seemingly as confused as the rest of us at the apparent lack of effort being put in.
In one game against Brighton, Fabinho genuinely lost his head. He should’ve been sent off for a horrible tackle and then proceeded to pass them the ball at every opportunity in way of an apology. Now, he did improve at the end of the season with Trent Alexander-Arnold alongside him in a double pivot. He went from bad to average, but the line is going down. In fact, he wasn’t great towards the end of the 2021/22 either, but because Liverpool were chasing a quadruple, not many noticed.
This doesn’t hide how brilliant he was during his peak. At his best, Fabinho was a dominant, physical, composed force at the heart of the planet’s no.1 side. His influence on the team at its height was as much as Alisson, Virgil van Dijk or Mo Salah. He was that good. But the bite, timing, tenacity, and hunger have mellowed. Despite not yet reaching his thirties, Fabinho is past his best and his legs are slowing to zero. £40m is fantastic selling business, especially for a side that needs to rebuild and requires money to do so.
Jordan Henderson also wants to leave, but Liverpool are absolutely right to stand in Al Ettifaq’s way considering they thought we’d just give them our captain for free when he has two years left on his deal. It’s preposterous. If they come up with £20m-odd, selling Henderson probably makes sense too, as he wants out and we can truly focus on the rebuild. £60m for Fabinho and Henderson, allowing us to bring in two defensive midfielders or one very expensive, elite talent, makes sense, especially when both players want to leave. Klopp never wants people who don’t want to be there. Fabinho and Henderson have heard his voice many times. Last season, it didn’t resolute. New blood who can be inspired to fight, run and press in a typical Klopp side might be the most exciting thing right now.
Out with the old, in with the new.
But the Saudi clubs are having a laugh if they think they can buy our best players… Luis Diaz is the subject of a bid from Al Hilal according to the Guardian, but obviously Liverpool will reject any advances. Only a world record offer would force our hand, and even then, you’d begin to ask what the point of this all is if we’re actually offloading players we want to the Middle East.
It’s a weird time to be a fan, that’s for sure, but the club is playing it right by selling Fabinho for £40m and waiting for £20m on Henderson. It’s good business. The real question after that of course is who will come in.