The Brazilian says he learned a lot from his spell at the back, but he prefers the extra responsibility on offer in the middle of the park
Fabinho has admitted that he “didn’t really enjoy” playing in defence for Liverpool at first, adding that he is glad to be back in his favoured midfield role.
Jurgen Klopp was forced to deploy Fabinho at centre-back earlier this season amid an unprecedented injury crisis that saw the likes of Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez ruled out with long-term issues.
The Brazilian slotted into a defensive role seamlessly, but the Reds suffered a major dip in form without him in the middle of the park, and he is relieved to have finally returned to his natural position.
What’s been said?
“Playing as a centre-half, I learnt a lot,” Fabinho told Sky Sports ahead of Liverpool’s Premier League meeting with Arsenal on Saturday.
“I learnt to enjoy playing this position because at first I didn’t really enjoy it!
“But then thanks to my team-mates I improved a lot and learnt some things about the position, about leadership as well because in this position you can see almost everything, so we had to try to organise the team as well.”
The 27-year-old added: “In midfield, you touch the ball more and, in the offensive part, have a bigger importance than you can have at centre-half. But my focus first of all is always to try to protect the defence without the ball, to try to close the gaps.
“Then, when we have the ball and lose it, to try to recover it as quickly as possible.”
How many games did Fabinho play in defence?
Fabinho has appeared in 21 Premier League matches this season, including 19 starts – 15 of which saw him deployed in the heart of Liverpool’s defence.
The Reds only conceded 12 goals during those games while recording six clean sheets, but were far less solid at the back when he was missing through injury.
Klopp’s side have kept two clean sheets and shipped 24 goals in the 14 top-flight fixtures they’ve played without Fabinho playing at centre-half, but did win their last fixture before the international break against RB Leipzig in the Champions League with him back in a midfield berth.
What can Liverpool still achieve in 2020-21?
Despite a turbulent campaign that has seen Liverpool fail to defend their Premier League crown or progress in the FA Cup and Carabao Cup, they could still finish the season with some silverware.
The Reds are set to face Real Madrid in the Champions League quarter-finals next week, and they can still finish fourth in the top flight if they can put together a late run in their remaining nine domestic fixtures.
“Yes of course we believe [we can make the top four]. We have to be the first to believe it if we want to be there,” Fabinho said of the Merseyside outfit’s targets.
“And I think we can win this tie against Real Madrid – but we have to bring our best shape and best mood. We are Liverpool so we always try to win every competition.”