‘I have to do what Virgil always does – be a leader’: Fabinho reveals Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has told him to step up in Van Dijk’s absence after starring role in gritty victory against Ajax
- Fabinho was Liverpool’s star man in their 1-0 victory away against Ajax
- The Brazilian started in the centre of defence alongside Joe Gomez in Holland
- The 26-year-old said Jurgen Klopp told him to step up in Virgil van Dijk’s absence
The 26-year-old Fabinho produced a magnificent display away against Ajax in the Champions League on Wednesday night, dropping back into defence and partnering Joe Gomez in the Dutchman’s absence.
As well as producing a string of crucial tackles and blocks, Fabinho acrobatically cleared Dusan Tadic’s lob off the line in the first-half to ensure Liverpool’s continental campaign began with a win.
Fabinho was superb in defence for Liverpool as they beat Ajax 1-0 in the Champions League
Fabinho produced an acrobatic goal-line clearance to keep Liverpool level in the first half
The Brazil international, who typically plays in Liverpool’s midfield three, said after the match that Klopp has told him to be more vocal on the pitch, especially when he is playing as a centre-back.
‘Tactically, I have to be ready for the long balls and try to organise the team,’ he said to Viaplay. ‘It’s not easy but I have to do a little of what Virgil always does – talk to the team and try to be a leader.
‘Of course I am not really but I will do my best. It was very important for me and for the team to keep the clean sheet today for confidence.
‘The manager said to me I have to talk more to the team, to try to organise the team. Sometimes, a little bit I was like “second ball”, “be ready” to try to press good. I try to be in this role as well, I try to do my best.’
Van Dijk is almost certainly facing the remainder of the season on the sidelines after being crocked by Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford’s brutal early challenge in Saturday’s Merseyside derby.
The Brazilian is usually in Liverpool’s midfield but could find himself in defence this season
Fabinho said that team-mate Virgil van Dijk (right) is the best defender in the world
It leaves Gomez and Joel Matip as Liverpool’s remaining out-and-out centre backs but Fabinho has played in the postition before – notably earlier this season when Liverpool beat Chelsea 2-0 at Stamford Bridge.
‘When I knew Virgil was out for a long time, it was a little bit of a shock,’ Fabinho admitted. ‘First of all, I think he’s the best defender in the world. And he’s a leader on the team and in the dressing room – he keeps a good mood and a good atmosphere.
‘We will miss this but we have to keep going and win the games for him.’
Liverpool are back in action again in Saturday’s late Premier League kick-off when they host Sheffield United at Anfield.