Liverpool have been trying to find an answer to a Fabinho problem for sometime now and Jurgen Klopp may have found one outside the transfer market.
Liverpool prospect, Stefan Bajcetic, has been one of the biggest surprises of pre-season training so far.
Fans were thrilled by the 17-year-old’s performance during the 5-0 victory over RB Leipzig in Germany. Fans now want to see more of Bajcetic after he was introduced in the second half of the game as Jurgen Klopp made significant substitutions, as is customary in pre-season games.
Bajcetic expressed his excitement about the opportunity being given to him and talked about playing in a different role on the club’s official website. Usually a defender, he was used as a defensive midfielder in the second half in Leipzig.
“It’s been good,” he told Liverpoolfc.com. “I always played centre-back growing up but now I think I’m capable of playing there [in the number six role]. If they give me the opportunity, I will.
“To be honest, I don’t mind [where I play]. I just want to play football. If the staff and coach thinks I’m needed there, I will play there.
“Especially for this club, the way he [Fabinho] plays, I think, is the best, and I always try to look at him and learn from him.
“It’s obviously tough to play like him but I always try to look at him and learn from his positioning, his pressing and all that.”
Bajcetic’s future at the club may lie on what he learns from Fabinho, and it may also reveal how Klopp plans to use Bajcetic in the future.
Since Fabinho’s role in the team is crucial to how the Reds play, Liverpool supporters have been asking the club to sign a vice-Fabinho for years. They are not the same team when he is not in the middle of the field. When Fabinho was sidelined due to injury in the early half of last season, this was clear. Jordan Henderson assumed his position but gave it a different interpretation.
Finding a replacement for Fabinho is a difficult sell for a player who joined Liverpool and went on to play a handful of games per-season. However, rather than attempting to find a solution in the transfer market, the solution may lie in promoting Bajcetic to the first team and gradually handing him games over the next couple of years. Given his young age, he won’t be clamoring for first team football just yet and may be able to learn from Fabinho.
Although expectations should be kept in check given that it is only one half of a pre-season friendly, Klopp has already demonstrated that age is irrelevant if he believes a player to be good enough. The vice-Fabinho issue might be resolved by bringing Bajcetic into the starting lineup, which would also help Liverpool avoid paying millions in transfer fees.