Liverpool‘s star defensive center-mid Fabinho is out until next year. The club confirmed he suffered ligament damage to his ankle during Liverpool’s draw against Napoli.
This is devastating news for the Reds.
Among Liverpool supporters, Fabinho would rank in the top 5 of our “players we absolutely cannot lose to injury” list.
Here’s why the injury comes at the absolute worst time and what the club could do to get by.
How long will Fabinho be out?
For American sports fans used to the NFL’s more detailed injury reports, English soccer doesn’t totally operate that way.
We know Fabinho has been seen in a walking boot. They’ve confirmed it’s ligament damage. According to the club:
The Brazilian will begin a rehabilitation programme with the Reds’ medical team at Melwood as he works his way back to full fitness.
If the injury is along the lines of a high ankle sprain, that’s a 6 week to 3 month recovery period. A more run-of-the-mill ankle sprain takes 4-6 weeks.
Regardless, expect Fabinho out during Liverpool’s brutal stretch of holiday fixtures. With potentially 11 matches in 34 days coming up, the timing of this could not be worse.
What should Liverpool do to replace Fabinho?
Here are some of the options:
- Insert Adam Lallana. Yes, I hear you screaming “noooooooo!” loudly at your monitor. But Lallana has been training to drop back and cover for Fabinho. Expect him to get starts against some mid-to-bottom table Premier League sides.
- Drop Gini Wijnaldum and Jordan Henderson to the #6. Both of these players shine much brighter when playing a more advanced role. No time for that now! Expect Klopp to frequently go with Gini in place of Fab during December against top tier teams with Hendo spelling him once or twice.
- Experiment with a more attack-minded midfield. Remember the 2017-18 season when Liverpool were running teams off the field with heavy metal football? They’d score 4, give up 3 or 4, and give all of us panic attacks as we clung on to every lead? Perhaps the Fabinho injury forces Klopp to roll out a midfield with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Xherdan Shaqiri, and [cringing while I’m typing this] Naby Keita. That line-up has more offensive punch than his current line-up. If Joel Matip returns from injury in form, and the backline tightens up just a bit, the “let’s blow everyone off the pitch” strategy could work for a few matches.
- Buy someone in the transfer window. Even if Fabinho is back by January, the club would be wise to scour the transfer market for someone who can fill in for the Brazilian. There’s the risk of re-injury if Fabinho is over-played when he comes back. Yes, everyone agrees that Liverpool should focus on acquiring an attacking mid who can breakdown defenses. But given how Fabinho’s rise has coincided with Liverpool’s extended run of greatness, you can’t overlook the importance of a quality DMC in Klopp’s vision for the team.