Fabinho has picked Virgil van Dijk out as the player who has impressed him the most since arriving at Liverpool last summer.
The Brazil international did not start a match for Liverpool until the Carabao Cup defeat to Chelsea in late September and by the start of November had played just six times, four of which were short substitute appearances.
But from that point on he got a run in the team and December’s 3-1 victory over United, which ended Jose Mourinho’s reign at Old Trafford, was the game which proved to be the turning point.
Since then he has performed a pivotal role as the holding midfielder in the team and put in his best display in the 4-0 Champions League semi-final, second-leg comeback against Barcelona, made even more impressive by his level of control after being booked early on.
And since arriving from Monaco last summer for £39m, Fabinho has been particularly impressed by the commanding performances of Van Dijk.
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“One guy who impresses a lot is van Djik. I hadn’t particularly seen so many games of him. In the games I saw, I focused on the midfield there, I didn’t see much of him,” said Fabinho told Globo in their Hoje Sim Podcast.
“And man, since the preseason I arrived, following him like that, the guy is sovereign. No one beats him on the air. I think he’s been there for 64 games without being dribbled.
“He’s fast. And it’s funny that it seems like he doesn’t have to make efforts to run. He does it that way, like a big guy, and he easily gets to the ball. Air balls are funny. Because the ball comes and we just hear him shouting ‘VIRGIL’. And you can let it pass, whoever the attacker is.
“Against Manchester [United], he impressed me. Because we were going to play against [Romelu] Lukaku. I thought ‘hey Lukaku has his size, let’s see if he will hold up’. My god. Every air ball, it was ‘VIRGIL’, he would run over. You hear ‘VIRGIL’, you get out of the way, because he will come running over.
“I sit between him and Wijnaldum in the locker room. And Van Dijk is a big child. He just plays, makes jokes. He knows some words in Portuguese. Off the pitch he’s a very good guy. And on the pitch he is the guy who charges the most. Who charges everyone and everyone is like ‘okay’. And he’s not afraid of whoever he screams at. Gives everyone a scolding. He has a thick voice, you can hear him from afar.”