Richards claims one Liverpool star’s ‘legs have gone’ despite him only being 29

Micah Richards speaks about Liverpool Credit: Alamy
Micah Richards speaks about Liverpool Credit: Alamy

Micah Richards claims one 29-year-old Liverpool player is no longer one of the world’s best because his legs have started to go.

Fabinho has been widely regarded as one of the best defensive midfielders in world football but his form this campaign has led some to question if he’s past his peak.

The Brazilian was one of the signings under Jurgen Klopp that took Liverpool to a new level as they won the Champions League in 2019 and Premier League title in 2020.

Just months ago Liverpool were on the verge of an unprecedented Quadruple, eventually settling for an FA Cup and League Cup double, but their terrible start to the Premier League campaign has seen people pick holes in their side.

One of the main areas under scrutiny is their midfield with many former players and pundits suggesting it is the root cause of their offensive and defensive issues.

And Richards thinks it is “quite strange” to see Fabinho’s fall from grace with the former Manchester City defender wondering whether the Liverpool midfielder’s legs have gone.

Richards told BBC Sport: “It’s quite strange isn’t it, we were talking about Fabinho about 18 months ago as being the best defensive midfielder in world football.

“He just looks like he can do all the same things apart from the legs. You know when you’re a midfielder and your legs just start to go, and you can’t get around the pitch as much as you would like, that’s what it seems to be.

“I think it’s difficult at times when he’s played (Fabio) Carvalho and Harvey Elliott, two more offensive (players), when normally he’s had a Henderson next to him or a Thiago next to him.”

Jamie Carragher has also recently criticised Fabinho, calling the Brazilian a “ghost” in their 2-1 defeat at home to Leeds United at the weekend.

Carragher said: “A big problem is the midfield. Teams get to the back four too easily. It’s so open and so unorganised. It should have been 4-0 after 20 minutes [against Brighton].

“The midfield is not in the position midfield players should be in, teams get at the back four early. You expect that late, not early.

“People said the midfield would be a problem for Liverpool. Fabinho has been miles off the pace.”

Former Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez also pinpointed midfield as an issue for Klopp’s side but speaking to The Times yesterday he expressed sympathy for Fabinho.

Benitez said: “Fabinho is a player who needs solutions around him. He is not like Thiago Alcântara who can pass to his left, right, in front or wherever because he can see all these things. But then, Thiago cannot challenge like Fabinho or provide the same balance.

“In Fabinho’s case, the solutions are having players around him in the right positions so he can give them the ball. If this happens then he will make fewer mistakes and can continue protecting the centre backs. He needs a bit of belief at the moment, but he is still a great player.”

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