Improving the Midfield: Is a Loan for Fabinho a Possibilty?

The January transfer window is fast approaching and teams across Europe will be looking for new additions that can make a difference. For Paris Saint-Germain, it allows them to address their need for a defensive midfielder. Names have surfaced in all the rumor mill blogs and will continue to do so to generate clicks. We don’t do that here at PSG Talk. That’s why I have decided to put together a series of articles spotlighting realistic targets the reigning French champions could target in the transfer window.

The first player previewed was Everton FC’s defensive midfielder Idrissa Gueye. From there, I went to the Russian league and explained how FC Zenit Saint Petersburg’s Leandro Paredes could be PSG’s midfield savior. The next player in this series is Fabinho. Those who watch Ligue 1 regularly will be familiar with the Brazilian and you probably know that he has been on PSG’s radar for some time. Before their crucial match against Fabinho’s current club, Liverpool, in late November, rumors began to surface over PSG’s renewed interest in the former AS Monaco man. However, it appears as though if Fenway Sports Group were to sell Fabinho, they’d like to recoup the money they already spent.

Over the summer, Liverpool spent an initial fee of €45 million plus a potential €5 million in add-ons for the 25-year-old. That’s a lot of money and ownership has yet to get a lot for their investment. If the English club were to cut their losses after a few months, their asking price is potentially too costly for PSG who have to spend carefully with Financial Fair Play looming around every corner. For example, this past summer, the capital club’s highest transfer purchase was Thilo Kehrer at €37 million.

Due to FFP, it’s safe to assume that PSG would like to keep any January purchases below €40 million. The disconnect between what both clubs want at the moment, a loan is the most likely of possibilities. PSG could look to acquire Fabinho via a loan with an option or obligation to buy in the summer, similar to Kylian Mbappé when he signed from Monaco.

What the Numbers Say

After losing in the UEFA Champions League final, one of Liverpool’s first moves of the summer was acquiring Fabinhos from Monaco. It was a move that was thought to have solidified their midfield. Unfortunately, his transition from Ligue 1 to the Premier League has been a difficult one.

Through 16 Premier League matches, Fabinho has only appeared in six and started four games. It doesn’t get any better in Champions League competition either where he has only started one match and appeared in three. Liverpool isn’t exactly getting all of their money’s worth, which is why a move could happen. Fabinho has seen drastic changes

Fabinhos has seen drastic changes in his production since moving to Merseyside. For starters, the physical side of his game is still there. Numbers via Sofascore show Fabinhos averages 3.75 tackles per 90, that’s roughly four tackles per 90 and more than what he averaged at Monaco. However, what differs is that he’s losing more duels at Liverpool. At Monaco, Fabinho’s total duels won per 90 was at 9.15, which led to a total duel’s won percentage of 61. These numbers led all midfielders with over 15 appearances for the principality club. At Liverpool, his total duels won per 90 has gone from 9.15 to 6.09. As a result, his total duel’s won percentage has dropped from 61 to 53 percent What made Fabinho successful in Ligue 1 isn’t translating over to the Premier League.

Along with the physicality, Fabinho has more to offer particularly on the offensive side of the ball. One skill that has carried over to the Premier League is his passing. The statistics are all similar except Fabinho is seeing a decrease in the number of accurate long balls per 90 going from 4.74 with Monaco to 1.17 with Liverpool. Despite that slight drop in long-ball accuracy, Fabinho remains a commodity that will be able to serve as a transitional link from defense to offense.

Watching From the Bench

Typically, clubs don’t enjoy having players making a significant amount of money while sitting on the bench. PSG has seen their share of highly paid subs making spot starts. It results in unhappy players who can cause a disturbance in the clubhouse. It’s no secret that Les Parisiens have long coveted Fabinho over the past two seasons, so it’s no surprise to see PSG inquire about his services when Liverpool board members were in Paris recently.

Aside from his physical presence, Fabinhos helps cover a lot of ground on the pitch. With that being said, Jürgen Klopp continues to go with Jordan Henderson in crucial matches as we saw when Liverpool played PSG at the Parc des Princes. Maybe it’s because Klopp doesn’t trust him fully or maybe he’s easing him into his system slowly. It’s a head-scratching decision seeing as Fabinho is more familiar with PSG than the England international.

Final Thoughts

News like this with ruffle some feathers as Klopp remained adamant that Fabinho will stay with the club. However, the same song and dance were said about Philippe Coutinho and he now plays for FC Barcelona. Also, Rebeca Tavares, who is Fabinho’s wife, let her displeasure be known as well. PSG supporters have been through this before. Remember Gerard Piqué ‘Se Queda‘ photo during the Neymar Jr. saga?

In the end, this transfer could happen if two things continue to occur. One is if Liverpool continues to have Fabinho as an expensive sub who makes spot starts. It’s easy to see the Brazilian wanting out. Two is the dollars needed to make fiscal sense on PSG’s end since the club may not be able to buy him outright. A loan option may need to be explored. Whether or not it happens, it’s no secret that Fabinho will solve PSG’s defensive midfield woes.

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Posted by Eduardo