At the end of a historic, must see television football season fueled by passion, few players embodied that more than Fabinho. From the minute he signed for Liverpool, you could tell he was thrilled to complete a dream move, but not as thrilled as the Liverpool faithful. Proving to be the key, the anchor missing from years past in the Liverpool midfield, Fabinho’s impact guided the Reds to their greatest ever point tally in club history.
With Brazilian and Manchester City veteran Fernandinho rising in age, a new holding midfielder awaits to take the torch as the new starter for the Brazilian national team. Primarily the choices come down to Fabinho, Casemiro and Arthur. I’m going to compare the three.
In 6 appearances for Real Madrid in this seasons UEFA champions league, Casemiro boasted a 90% passing success rate, while scoring 1 goal with an average match rating of 7.3. Casemiro contributed 4.3 tackles and 2.1 interceptions per 90 minutes. In La Liga, he made 27 appearances and had an 88% pass success rate, scored 3 goals while conceding 5 yellow cards and 1 red card. He averaged a match rating of 7.1. In 6 appearances for Brazil, he averaged an 86% pass rate, conceding 2 yellow cards with an average match rating of 7.6
In 7 UEFA Champions League appearances this season for FC Barcelona, (2 off the bench), Arthur boasted a 94% pass rating, while conceding 1 yellow card with an average match rating of 6.6 In La Liga, he made 19 appearances, (8 off the bench), and boasted a 96% pass success rate with 1 assist and 2 yellow cards and had an average match rating of 6.5.
In 6 UEFA Champions League appearances this season for Liverpool, (4 off the bench), Fabinho boasted a passing success rate of 82%, while conceding 3 yellow cards with an average match rating of 7. In the Premier League, Fabinho made 21 appearances, (7 off the bench), and boasted an 85% pass success rate, scoring 1 goal and providing 2 assists. He also conceded 6 yellow cards, won 2 aerial duels and had an average match rating of 7. Fabinho has also made 7 appearances for his Brazilian national team at various defensive positions like right back and center back, but seldom in the position he thrives in, the center defensive mid.
Casemiro is the most established midfielder of these three having already played an important role in both the successes of Real Madrid and Brazil, proving to be a pivotal anchor in the midfield, shield for the defense, and quarterback for the attack. He was given a larger role in the 2018 FIFA World Cup, with it being no coincidence that they went out in a 2-1 quarterfinal defeat to Belgium that he was suspended for. That match was started by the aging Fernandinho, who’s entire afternoon was dictated by Kevin De Bruyne and Axel Witsel.
Arthur is a consistent, “you know what you’re going to get” type midfielder, although somewhat undersized for the position. Arthur isn’t a stat sheet stuffer, and still being somewhat integrated into both club and country sides, he’s often described as a tireless work horse with quick, keen passing. He’s the type of player that, rather than picking up loads of assists, will make right pass to ensure the most productive, efficient build up to a goal.
Fabinho has had the biggest roller coaster of a ride out of three. Coming from transitioning from one system to another, albeit while learning each distinctive style of the various positions he was playing, Fabinho quickly found his feet. With Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp being highly respected by Brazilian coach Tite, you would expect Klopp’s influence and Fabinho’s consistent emergence to make choosing him a no brainer.
Constantly providing as a shield for Liverpool’s defense, Fabinho slowly integrated his way into the “quarterback” role, turning the tackles made in his own third into quick, transitional counter attacking play. Fabinho was wrongly left out of the Brazilian side for the Copa America, proving a reliable decision in both defense and midfield. Providing a jolt of inspiration and a wall in tactical application, Fabinho being left out will place much more responsibility for players like Casemiro and Arthur who struggled for consistent time/success this season.