Martin Keown has credited Fabinho with bringing “authority” to the Liverpool FC midfield after the Brazilian’s impressive full European debut at Anfield last week.
Fabinho, 25, was handed his first Champions League start since his move from AS Monaco in the summer as the South American partnered Georginio Wijnladum in the middle of the park against Red Star Belgrade.
Jurgen Klopp tinkered with his formation as the German head coach ditched his trademark 4-3-3 set-up in favour of a system that accommodated Xherdan Shaqiri as an attacking midfielder.
Fabinho excelled in the role as the summer signing shielded the Liverpool FC defence and showcased his passing ability as the fulcrum of the Reds team.
Only Joe Gomez and Georginio Wijnaldum touched the ball more times than Fabinho, who got on the ball 96 times during the 4-0 win over Red Star Belgrade.
Fabinho’s tall frame helped the Brazilian to win the ball in the air six times, while the former Real Madrid star completed nine tackles in an all-action display at Anfield.
And former Arsenal star Keown believes Liverpool FC have found an authoritative midfielder in the shape of Brazil international Fabinho, who played the full 90 minutes against Cardiff City on Saturday.
“Fabinho also played well against Red Star, putting in some excellent tackles. He showed his authority in the Liverpool midfield,” Keown told the Daily Mail.
“These two [Fabinho and Shaqiri] are creating real competition for the three midfield places at Anfield.
“Klopp now has plenty of options and when the squad players do well, it is beneficial for the whole group.”
Fabinho’s move to Liverpool FC in a £40m deal from Ligue 1 side AS Monaco was met with much fanfare given the South American had previously been linked with Arsenal and Manchester United.
However, Klopp has been reluctant to use Fabinho, limiting the Brazilian to late cameo appearances in the Champions League against Paris Saint-Germain and Napoli.
The summer signing has only racked up 111 minutes of Premier League football so far this season after he started his first top-flight game in the 4-1 win over Cardiff at Anfield on Saturday.
The Reds will make the return trip to Belgrade at the start of November after their 4-0 home win.