Liverpool $55m transformer should be timely transfer reminder to Arne Slot and FSG

Arne Slot smiles during his Feyenoord farewell.
-Credit: (Image: Photo by Peter Lous/BSR Agency/Getty Images)

Some of the best Liverpool transfers in modern history have come completely out of the blue. And when it comes to signings that emerged from nowhere, Fabinho was perhaps the biggest example.

It was on this day six years ago that Liverpool committed to spending around $55m (£43m/€51m) on the former AS Monaco man. Far from the most heralded player in the Ligue 1 team which had taken the Champions League by storm in 2016/17, getting Fabinho was a surprise move at that price and a surprise in that the deal was done almost as soon as the rumors emerged.

There was no long drawn-out saga or a relentless amount of minor updates arriving day by day for weeks. Just like the player himself proved to be, Fabinho's signing was no-nonsense. Quickly, quietly and efficiently, it was done.

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While it took time for the Brazilian to get used to the demands of playing under Jürgen Klopp, who wanted him to be a sole presence at the base of the Liverpool midfield rather than being deployed as part of a double-pivot as he had been used to, when it clicked, Fabinho was a huge part of the side that went on to win the lot.

There is no doubt that Fabinho is in the best starting XI of Klopp's tenure. At his best, he was a Rodri level of holding midfielder and, as Liverpool has found, there are very few of those around.

Fabinho's last season, where he declined physically and was unable to cover the vast amount of distance required to play a hugely demanding role on your own, was not an accurate representation of what he was at his best. It was, though, a good barometer of just how important it is that there is an elite player in that position to take a team to the next level.

Fabinho and Roberto Firmino were in attendance for Liverpool's win over Newcastle
Fabinho and Roberto Firmino were in attendance for Liverpool's win over Newcastle -Credit:Getty Images

Still only 30 but now playing for Al-Ittihad, Fabinho was perhaps not quite as transformative as Alisson Becker and Virgil van Dijk, but he wasn't far behind them. He burned bright for four years and then couldn't sustain his levels.

And right now, Fabinho's position is the one that Liverpool might want to look at improving if it is to match Manchester City (Rodri) and Arsenal (Declan Rice) in that department. That is, in fact, what it was trying to get when it made the monster bid for Moisés Caicedo last year.

Wataru Endō came in but he is a couple of years older than Fabinho and Alexis Mac Allister has played deeper, but he can't play every minute of every game. The Argentine playing the holding role only works when the Liverpool midfield is firing on all cylinders — and for that to be the case, it needs to be fresh.

Stefan Bajčetić has a huge future ahead of him but the teenage Spaniard cannot be overplayed after spending nearly a year on the sidelines. He can also be useful as a number eight, so if Liverpool does want to perfect its midfield department, the number six position is the obvious place to do that.

Six years on from Fabinho being so transformative, Liverpool already has the evidence for how important that role can be. The only question is whether the right player to become the new Fabinho is out there and available on the market.