Fabinho is a key player in the Liverpool side after establishing himself with a series of “brilliant” performances, according to Noel Whelan.
Speaking exclusively to Football Insider, the former Leeds United and Coventry City striker has been blown away by the development of the midfield anchorman.
Fabinho could not get in the team in his first few months at Anfield after signing from Monaco last summer but has gradually won the trust of Jurgen Klopp.
The Brazil international is now established as the first-choice midfield anchorman, with Jordan Henderson now pushed forward into a more attacking role.
“Fabinho’s shocked me a bit,” said Whelan to Football Insider. “I wasn’t too sure about him when he first joined. He didn’t appear to have the legs to get around the midfield.
“But, now he’s got used to the pace of the Premier League and Liverpool’s playing style, he looks excellent. He is starting to get to grips with his role and his recent performances have been brilliant.”
Fabinho has made 34 appearances for Liverpool, including 19 Premier League and three Champions League starts.
Whelan claims the Brazil international should start the Merseysiders’ Champions League semi-final second leg against Porto on Wednesday night.
“It has to be a full-strength side,” he told Football Insider. “It would be a surprise if Klopp rests anybody. I would go with a midfield three of Fabinho, [Jordan] Henderson and [Georginio] Wijnaldum, which gives you attacking options and also a strong defensive base.