Liverpool still have no plans to recruit a centre-back this month and have had a long-held belief that Fabinho can operate adequately in the position, sources have told ESPN FC.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is short of options in the heart of defence due to mounting injuries. Fabinho, who normally plays in midfield, operated as a centre-half in the FA Cup third-round defeat to Wolverhampton Wanderers on Monday, with Virgil van Dijk rested and Joel Matip and Joe Gomez still sidelined through injury.
Fabinho could play in the position again at Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday as there are serious doubts about the fitness of Dejan Lovren, who came off injured at Wolves after five minutes.
January 2016, during Klopp’s first season in charge at Anfield, Liverpool signed Steven Caulker on loan from Queens Park Rangers to provide relief amid an injury crisis.
Speaking in December, Klopp questioned whether any January short-term fixes to his centre-half situation would have the required qualities for his Premier League title-chasing side.
“Could we get somebody just for January with the quality we need? I am not sure that is possible,” he said.
Liverpool started the season with five recognised senior centre-halves in Van Dijk, Gomez, Lovren, Matip and Ragnar Klavan. Nathaniel Phillips also impressed during preseason, although the 21-year-old has been absent of late with an injury.
Klavan made 20 starts for Liverpool in all competitions last season, but was sold to Serie A side Cagliari for £2 million in August.
Klopp personally sanctioned Klavan’s transfer as the 33-year-old wanted to finish his career playing regularly. In doing so, the Liverpool manager was also confident in Fabinho’s ability to move back to a defensive position if required, a source said.
Fabinho, the €50m summer signing from Monaco, is now playing more regularly for Liverpool after a slow start.
“Fabinho only needed a little bit of time,” Klopp told ESPN Brasil in an exclusive interview recently. “That’s not even a little problem.
“It’s just because of all of the questions because we work in public and everybody is asking everyday about it. Then you start thinking: ‘No, it was never a problem.'”