'I was wrong about him' - Exclusive: Whelan in awe of Liverpool player now 'first on team sheet'

Liverpool midfielder Fabinho will now be “first on the team sheet” after developing into an “absolutely awesome” Premier League player, according to Noel Whelan.

Speaking exclusively to Football Insider, the former Leeds United and Coventry City striker has been stunned by the improvement in the Brazil international since he signed.

Fabinho, 25, has established himself as a lynchpin of Jurgen Klopp’s side since the turn of the year after initially struggling to make an impression following his summer-of-2018 arrival from Monaco.

Whelan explained how he was initially less than impressed by the £40million Brazilian.

“He looked off the pace when he first joined and struggled to get around the pitch,” Whelan told Football Insider. “I thought, ‘have they made a mistake here? but I was wrong about him.

“He’s looking a phenomenal player, a bit like [N’Golo] Kante but with more presence. He is all over the pitch, nicking the ball, winning tackles, good in the air, starting attacks, takes the ball in tight areas, calm and composed.

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“Fabinho is so important to the team. You can’t win trophies without a player like him. He’s looking irreplaceable in the team and, amid great competition, may be Klopp’s first name on the team sheet.”

Fabinho marked his 58th Liverpool appearance yesterday with a sensational goal to break the deadlock and put his side on course for a memorable 3-1 win at Anfield.

The Brazilian is now firmly established as the first choice anchorman at Anfield and has started 15 of his 16 matches this season.

In other Liverpool news, Klopp has blocked the £20million January exit of big name after U-turn.