Even the most casual of fans will be aware that Liverpool plan to make changes to their midfield this summer.
And it appears that those who are watching the Reds from the center of the field are well aware of what might be about to happen.
Not the least, one particular player.
There has always been the impression that Fabinho has been playing catch-up throughout the season ever since the compressed and abbreviated pre-season.
Certainly, the Brazilian struggled to recover from his alarmingly poor performance in the first game at Fulham, which set the stage for a challenging start that led to his dismissal two weeks later at Manchester United. Then, after the New Year, he was benched in favor of Stefan Bajcetic, a promising young player, with a string of demoralizing cameos doing little to help his cause.
But whether it be in the midfield duel or his career in general, Fabinho has never been one to back down from a challenge. He will be aware that the battle for positions will become more intense once more with the arrival of two or even three midfielders during the transfer window.
With a strong push to the finish line, Liverpool have at least given themselves a chance to qualify for the Champions League, and the 29-year-old has highlighted his significance. With his 13th consecutive Premier League start in this game against relegation-threatened Leicester City, Fabinho has played himself back into form.
The Brazilian snapped into tackles, read the game well, saw danger coming, and distributed the ball with authority in what was arguably his best performance of the season. His ability to adjust to Liverpool’s new formation has also highlighted his long-standing talent for positional intelligence and given him more freedom to play with Trent Alexander-Arnold occasionally playing alongside him.
Fabinho’s contribution to this game was perhaps best highlighted right after Liverpool’s second goal, when his immediate high pressing produced a chance that Cody Gakpo should have taken advantage of.
And in the final moments, he was patrolling the field with assurance and resolve. This was the previous Fabinho.
As the game approached its conclusion and their team grew closer to the trap door, the irate home crowd chanted, “You’re not fit to wear the shirt.”
But Fabinho has demonstrated why he more than deserves to continue donning the Liverpool red after this year.