Danny Mills heaped praise on Fabinho despite Liverpool losing their unbeaten run at Vicarage Road on Saturday.
The former Leeds United and Manchester City full-back, speaking exclusively to Football Insider correspondent Dylan Childs, claimed “you notice him when he is not there” when speaking on the 26-year-old’s return to the side.
Fabinho returned to Jurgen Klopp’s side at the end of January having been sidelined for nearly two months with ankle ligament damage suffered against Napoli in late November.
The Brazil international has made 69 appearances for the Reds since joining from AS Monaco in the summer of 2018.
When asked if the holding-midfielder has been the same player since returning from injury, Mills told Football Insider: “Everybody is trying extra hard against Liverpool and it is making it difficult.
“Fabinho is a defensive player but he allows Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold to go forward at the same time. Playing Fabinho is an attacking option in a weird way. He sits there and sometimes plays as a third centre-half. He does not really go anywhere, he just sits in that pocket of space and he is very good at doing that. That is what happens.
“He is not going to stand out in many games but you will notice him when he is not there and I think that is a massive compliment to him and a huge accolade to give him.”
The league leaders suffered a shock defeat on Saturday night away to Nigel Pearson’s Watford, losing 3-0 to see their 44-game unbeaten run come to an end.
Last season’s Champions League winners remain 22 points clear with Manchester City not in action this weekend due to their involvement in the League Cup final.
In other Liverpool news, Noel Whelan has told Football Insider injury is “huge blow” to the Premier League leaders.