Fabinho joined Liverpool from Monaco in the summer following an almost £44m move.
For that sort of price, you might expect the midfielder to immediately become a central tenet of the team. But after a string of pre-season outings, Fabinho has yet to make his competitive debut for the Reds.
He was on the bench for the season opener against West Ham, but didn’t make the squad for the subsequent wins over Crystal Palace and Brighton.
Manager Jurgen Klopp put it down to easing the Brazilian into the team, as he did with Andy Robertson last season, the latter now being a nailed-on starter.
“It is about players understanding the position and who else is available as well, otherwise Fabinho would have been involved in the squad as he was in the first week,” Klopp stated.
Far from being frustrated at the situation, the player himself told the Liverpool Echo of how he’s taking a similar approach in playing the long-game.
“I’m aware it’s a different playing style than Monaco,” he told the paper. “There were two in midfield there whereas here at Liverpool there’s usually three.
“My midfield partners have provided me with guidance and assistance. Monaco had a transition similar to Liverpool’s. I think the two teams can be compared in this way; both them have very fast transition, with very fast players up front.
“Of course it was good to play at Anfield in front of the fans and feel the atmosphere but I want to play well every week, consistently. That’s what I’m working towards. The Premier League has a lot of intensity, a lot of physicality. I could see that in some friendlies we played against other English teams this summer. But I hope to adapt as soon as possible.”
It’s an admirable and sensible sentiment, but the 24-year-old does face competition when he does break into the first team.
Far from the injury-ravaged season that saw Adam Lallana (who is still out) and Emre Can missing for long periods, Liverpool’s midfield looks altogether more solid so far.
Klopp has started James Milner, Naby Keita and Georginio Wijnaldum in each game, and although Jordan Henderson is being eased back in after a huge World Cup campaign, even the captain is up against it in terms of competition.