So, it seems, the dismantling of Liverpool’s first-team under Jurgen Klopp continues.
Having helped the Reds sweep the board during his five years at the club, Fabinho is now on the verge of completing a move to Saudi Arabia after he failed to travel with Klopp’s squad for the pre-season training camp in Germany on Saturday.
The Brazilian is the latest in a long line of seasoned players in European leagues to be pursued by teams in the Saudi Pro League looking to establish themselves as a force.
But having already brought in two midfielders this summer, letting Fabinho leave would mean Liverpool once again scouring the market, this time for a dedicated number six capable of succeeding the Brazilian immediately.
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And here the ECHO looks at whether the Reds would be wise to allow Fabinho’s departure…
‘The next week will give a clearer picture in both ways’
Ian Doyle: In isolation, it seems like an absolute no-brainer for Liverpool to receive £40m for Fabinho. Except, of course, that nothing in football is without consequence.
And by accepting the offer from Saudi Pro League champions Al Ittihad, the Reds will present themselves with a problem they thought they had gone some way to solving earlier in the transfer window – midfield.
Of course, Fabinho is unlikely to demand such a fee again. At 29, while he’s hardly a blown flush, he’s past his prime if his performances for much of last season are any barometer.
But there would be no point in letting him leave unless Liverpool were convinced they had a clear replacement – meaning someone who could step straight into the first team – on the horizon.
If they do, selling Fabinho for almost the same price as it took to bring him to Anfield five years ago would be an impressive piece of business. However, if Liverpool cannot recruit sufficiently in this window – and preferably before the start of the season – then it would seem a rather foolish move. Next week will provide a clearer picture either way.
‘Time for all parties to go their separate ways’
Keifer MacDonald: So the end of the road is apparently in sight. With the news Fabinho did not travel to Germany as part of Liverpool’s 32-man squad, it appears the Brazilian’s glittering five-year Anfield career is all but over.
While it had been clear for some time that the 29-year-old was performing at a level well below his best, it does little to cure the shock of his impending £40million move to Al Ittihad.
If accepted, the fee represents shrewd business from newly appointed Jorg Schmadtke and will see Liverpool regain almost all of the funds they parted with in 2018 as they quickly began to rebuild from their Champions League final defeat with the midfielder’s arrival.
In the five seasons since, the Brazilian has played an integral role in Champions League and Premier League winning seasons, while also adding the FA Cup and League Cup – among others – to his collection.
But ahead of his 30th birthday in October, a fee of 40 million feels GBP – which would be the fifth highest sale in Anfield’s history – too tempting to turn down. However, the immediate difficulty for Liverpool will not necessarily lie in losing the current version of Fabinho, but in finding a ready-made replacement who can replicate the Brazilian’s top level in Europe from 2019 to 2021.
His departure has left Liverpool with an unexpected role to fill this summer, but in its own context, now feels like perhaps the most appropriate time for all parties to go their separate ways. And for that, obrigado, Flaco.
‘Positivity has been replaced by worry’
Stephen Killen: After the signing of Dominik Szoboszlai, the rebuilding of the midfield was moving in a positive direction. But with a bid for Fabinho, plus interest in Jordan Henderson, any positivity over the department has been replaced by concern.
The Brazilian has become the latest to have their attention captured by Saudi Arabia’s riches. Presented to the 29-year-old is a pay rise that will see off any offer he has received in his lifetime and is likely to be offered if he ends his career in Europe or back in South America.
Jurgen Klopp did not expect to find himself in this situation a week ago, nor will he want to lose one of his key midfielders. Regardless of the price, it would leave the Reds in a difficult position.
Where do you find one of the best holding midfielders in world football to soften the blow? Your answer is that you probably won’t acquire one of Fabinho’s qualities.
In a climate of overpriced midfielders and Liverpool moving rigorously through their transfer targets, the gap left by Fabinho needed to be filled by at least two players. To put it bluntly, there is currently no one of his caliber who could replace him.
Yes, the lucrative offer for the Brazilian is likely to be appetizing. But for Liverpool, the sale would only exacerbate their midfield woes. Liverpool don’t need a problem the size of Fabinho.