Premier League preview: Fulham v Liverpool
Jurgen Klopp has claimed the former midfielder Philippe Countinho still loves Liverpool and played a key role in Fabinho’s arrival at Anfield. The Liverpool boss believes Countinho convinced his countryman to sign due to his ongoing affection for the club.
Klopp secured the signature of the versatile Brazilian Fabinho from Monaco in the summer of 2018 – five months after Coutinho left Liverpool for Barcelona.
Despite his departure, his former manager believes Coutinho’s ‘love’ for the club played a role in the Reds getting the deal for Fabinho over the line.
“We just said what we had to say, what we think and what he will be for us and stuff like this,” Klopp revealed.
“I think the best help was probably Bobby [Firmino] as they knew each other from the national team and for sure what Phil said about Liverpool because he loved and still loves Liverpool, so these kinds of things helped.
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“I can’t tell you exactly what I said to him, because it was so long ago, but it was obviously convincing enough and so it came together.”
Coutinho joined Barcelona in January 2018 for £148million after five years on Merseyside.
The midfielder was a popular figure at the club winning both the Fans’ Player of the Year and Player’s Player of the Year in consecutive seasons in 2015 and 2016.
While the sale wasn’t well received by supporters at the time, the huge fee allowed the club to reinvest in the likes of Virgil van Dijk, Alisson and Fabinho.
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After playing a significant part in Liverpool’s Champions League and Premier League winning sides, Klopp issued a glowing assessment of the defensive midfielder who can play multiple positions.
He said: “When I met him first, he was a pretty shy boy and maybe he thought it would be best to be around a pretty vocal loud manager!”
“I’d love to say it was just because of us and before he came here, he could have never played in any of the positions he plays – but that’s just not true!
“I wouldn’t even say Fab is a defensively minded player, he’s more an organisational kind of player.
“He’s very strategic, I don’t know what he played in his youth in Brazil, but for Monaco and the national team he frequently played at right-back.
“He’s also played in one of the double six positions, so he’s just able to play centre-half – you can see that in so many situations.
Fabinho has had to fill in at centre back this season after long-term injuries to van Dijk and Joe Gomez.
Klopp is grateful to have a player who can ably deputise when called upon.
“His challenging skills are just outstanding defensively and football wise he’s good in small spaces, so it makes sense to play him in centre-midfield but he can play centre-half and we knew that.
“Thank God that we have him and with him and the other boys we have somebody to play in this position.”
“I didn’t have to persuade Fabinho to play at centre-back,” the German added.
“We know he can play that position and we train that position when we have the opportunity.”
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