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Liverpool have unearthed Premier League’s best in one role, Newcastle win was living proof | Football | Sport

“He’s like inspector gadget, he was absolutely everywhere today,” those were the words of Virgil van Dijk last time out after the 3-0 win at Burnley.

And if Saturday’s triumph over Newcastle was anything to go by, the Dutchman will be making Fabinho’s nickname stick around Melwood.

The Brazilian bossed proceedings, showing the kind of guile and ferocity the Liverpool engine room has been starved of since the days of Javier Mascherano.

Not only was he crashing into challenges and winning the second balls off the Reds back four as they battled against Joelinton, but Fabinho was creating attacks from a deep-lying role.

In the first half he cut the Newcastle backline open with a beautifully disguised lofted ball for Trent Alexander-Arnold which nearly forced the equaliser.

Steve Bruce was keen to pack men behind the ball following Jetro Willems’ opener and after having success with a similar game plan in the win at Tottenham last month.

It used to be in Liverpool’s DNA to panic after going a goal down, trying to force their way back into the game. Now Fabinho is one of the key characters Jurgen Klopp can rely upon to restore calm across the field.

His passing remains crisp, switching the play from side to side to the Reds’ relentless full-backs to gallop up the flank and launch balls into the box.

Now there is a serious case for Fabinho being the best in the Premier League of his ilk, in an area which has virtually been a non-contest for the past few seasons.

N’Golo Kante has reinvented the role since arriving in England with Leicester, developing a reputation for being the equivalent of two players because of the amount of distance he covers.

But the Frenchman was pushed slightly up the field in a more advanced role last season under Maurizio Sarri, which hindered his effectiveness.

This season he has struggled with injuries, starting just one Premier League game to the dismay of Frank Lampard who is understandably desperate to welcome him back to the fold.

Fernandinho was arguably Manchester City’s MVP last season which is why Etihad chiefs have taken so long to select his eventual replacement.

That man was £62.8million man Rodri, who is of a slightly different mould to his predecessor.

The Spaniard is more technical and is likely to be the main orchestrator for Pep Guardiola in possession.

Like Fabinho last season, Rodri will take time to adjust to the demands of his manager and should not be put under the microscope just four games into the season.

Klopp has had to be patient to establish his best midfield and while he is still likely to rotate to cope with the demands of a long season, Fabinho will be a mainstay at the base of his trio.

BT Sport pundit Jermaine Jenas was keen to sing the star’s praises before a ball was even kicked at Anfield.

“This man [Fabinho], he’s been brilliant for Liverpool,” the former Tottenham midfielder said.

“His awareness in tight spaces, he can pick a pass out, his range of passing is fantastic.

“He’s become a world class player at Liverpool.

“He is so vital to what Jurgen Klopp wants and he’s really important to his side.”

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