Although Fabinho's adaptation to life at Liverpool is still a work in progress, there's still been many signs that he's on the right track.
Signing for a hefty £43.7 million in the summer after a magnificent spell with AS Monaco, the Brazilian was wisely eased into the fray by Jurgen Klopp, who knew he needed time to assimilate into his new environment. Needing to come to terms with his new teammates, Klopp's tactical demands an unfamiliar language and a different culture, Fabinho insightfully admitted it hasn't been a straightforward process for him.
“This moment to adapt, it hasn’t been easy — many times you are out, there were many times I wasn’t [picked]. But I tried to learn from all this, tried to give my best during practice. The coaches were very nice to me, they didn’t let me get down. I worked to be well prepared," he explained.
"I'm not totally settled just yet. I'm still adapting to here but I believe that I'm now used to the football style, especially when it comes to the intensity of the game which is really different from the league that I came from. Also, I'm feeling well at the club. I can communicate well with my team-mates, even though my English isn't great. The language barrier is one of the issues so far.”
Since making his starting Champions League and Premier League debuts back in October, against Red Star Belgrade and Cardiff City respectively, the Brazilian's began to show his class, even if he wasn't at his best in the draw with Arsenal.
To kick things off with his offensive efforts, and he's been measured, incisive and intelligent in this phase of the game. Distributing his passes with accuracy, ideal weighting and precision, he's been a real asset in facilitating and animating attacking phases. Switching the angle of attacks swiftly, recirculation possession coherently, playing vertical line breaking passes or combining intricately in close quarters, whatever the situation, Fabinho's executed his actions assuredly.
Moreover, his repeated head scans, crisp ball control and overall press resistance has only enhanced his influence, thus ensuring he's aware of where his teammates, opponents and vacant spaces are so he can astutely obtain the ball and know exactly what to do depending on the circumstances he's confronted with. Being a tidy dribbler, this has seen him expertly provoke pressing actions from an opponent so he can open passing lanes to create a free man or breeze by them with a canny piece of skill.
Fabinho then ties all of the aforementioned together through his clever movement and understanding of space. An expert at exploiting and identifying zones in his adversaries' defensive structure, Fabinho times his movement brilliantly to either supply himself as an available outlet or by drawing his marker away from spaces in order for a colleague to use. The latter has come especially in handy when he's been man marked in Liverpool's build-up, meaning he's still impacting proceedings positively despite not being directly involved.
Gradually getting more used to Klopp's mechanics and his teammates' tendencies with every passing week, the way he's undertaken some smooth rotations has also been key for Liverpool in manipulating opposition structures to break through pressure. Proving his value when dropping deep during build-up or supporting wide areas, he's notably assisted in manufacturing vital numerical and positional superiorities for the Reds to amplify their effectiveness at progressing into the opponent's half.
Meanwhile, in terms of his defensively output, his endeavours have generally been of an equally high standard. Full of determination and nous, the former Real Madrid product has ensured his presence has been keenly felt when disrupting his foes. Be it breaking up counter attacks, exercising fine judgement when to step up and apply pressure, hold his post, shift laterally or drop back, his targets have endured a tough time getting the better off him.
Factor in his rapid responses to pressing triggers, the way he angles his harrying to cleverly block passing routes behind him, how he uses his long legs to stretch out to apply interventions or uses his towering frame to win headers, and this depicts what a troublesome menace he is.
All in all, this has seen him screen his backline admirably, be an exceptional exponent of Klopp's counterpressing plans and pose as an immense obstacle both in aerial and ground duels.
Klopp's recent praise of him gave an interesting look into his opinion of his charge, as he stated: "He has all the qualities – hard challenges, good offensively, good defensively, quick, good shooter, fantastic set pieces, good header; all these things. Strategic too, he is good strategically in the right moment. He’s just a fantastic addition."
With rumours already doing the rounds that AC Milan and Juventus are keen in acquiring him on loan in January due to his slower than hoped adaptation process, any potential move away would appear far too premature. After all, considering he's only been at Liverpool for not even half a season and progressing at a steady rate, surely he'll be given the chance to prove himself.
Even though he hasn't made the most eye-catching start to life at Anfield, it's been encouraging to observe him begin to impose himself in the last month. With time, opportunities and the belief of his manager, the immensely talented big money capture should become a real hit on Merseyside sooner rather than later.