Liverpool won the best player of the championship
The 19-year-old Portuguese was expected to join Liverpool in the winter, officials including Jurgen Klopp spoke openly about it at the beginning of the year. However, the Reds did not have time to agree all the details of the deal with Fulham before the deadline, and the club again had to sweat, as there were many who wanted to grab the midfielder (Man United and Real Madrid were rumored to have claimed), especially given Fabio’s expiring contract with the Cottagers. But a tentative agreement by Liverpool representatives and their good relationship with Fulham made it possible to announce the upcoming move as early as May, and with the opening of the transfer window to officially confirm the deal.
The Merseysiders have paid £5m for the young midfielder, with a further £2.7m available to Fulham in bonuses. In addition, the Black and Whites were entitled to a percentage of the player’s subsequent sale. Fabio took number 28 in his new team and began training under Klopp on July 4.
To end up at one of the best clubs in the world, if not the best, is an amazing feeling. I am just happy to be here. I can’t wait to start training.
If you hear about Liverpool’s interest, it becomes your only thought. You think about the transition and fighting for a place in the team. I hope I can achieve a lot of success.
I was talking to everyone and of course the coach and everything seemed so natural. When everything feels natural, it’s even easier to make a decision.
One of the main reasons I joined the team was the opportunity to work with Klopp. I’ve seen him help players get to the next level of development, and I’m sure he’s the right man to do that with me.
A versatile player with minor flaws
Last season, Carvalho produced 11 goals and 7 assists in 36 games. Usually Fabio acts in the position of ten or as one of the two creative midfielders. In these roles he has become the highest kicker in the Championchip, the second highest in the penalty area and the second highest in the opponent’s half. Without the ball he could also play second center forward with a focus on pressing.
What Klopp clearly drew attention to, and this is one of Carvalho’s main qualities, was the quality of his search for free spaces in the attacking third. Beginning with the accurate vision of the opponent’s defenders’ positions, correct positioning and timely exit from underneath Fabio makes breakthroughs and influences the success in the team’s closing moves – personally or with assists.
Due to good plasticity and speed, the Portuguese skillfully gets rid of the opponents’ pressure, changing the direction of the movement at speed or when turning around. And the very desire to receive the ball freely and without interference, opening in advance for passes, often saves Fabio a lot of work.
From the disadvantages, primarily due to inexperience, we can highlight errors in personal freedom of action, which the young player has always been given. Given his small size, Fabio sometimes chooses to dash to someone else’s penalty area, where he often encounters the defenders’ brute force and further loss of the ball. Sharpness and brightness could justify such bursts, but problems with the choice of finishing or trivial timing often ruined the Portuguese attack.
Without the ball in Fulham’s 4-4-2 scheme, Carvalho was paired with the center-forward, working in the first pressing line. In matches against major rivals he could go deeper to create problems for the opponent in the center. And in this role Fabio felt great, did not move away from the coach’s direct instructions and worked to block other people’s opportunities for passes.
Accordingly, Carvalho’s role in moving the ball and high pressing in defense became key in Marcus Silva’s team, who confidently returned the Cottagers to the APL. Peter Rutzler, author of The Athletic and Fulham expert, also highlighted the midfielder’s strong points:
Fabio’s quick feet, excellent movement and natural talent stand out. Opponents often target him, but he has learned to constantly work on getting the ball back. Despite the whole transition story, Carvalho has remained focused and stable. That kind of character is a great sign to play for a club the size of Liverpool.
Liverpool have nothing to lose
Carvalho is often compared to former Reds midfielder Philippe Coutinho – because of his similar manner of launching attacks from the left flank with a shift to the center under the striking right foot, variability and creativity before receiving passes and further development of movement towards the other side’s goal, a similar technique and style. However, the main distinguishing feature of the Brazilian has always been a decision to take the game and pull the attention on himself, while Fabio often chooses to pass and unleash the attack in the final third exactly by passing. That’s why Carvalho is already now, and potentially even more so, given Klopp’s role, could become a middle version of Coutinho and Bobby Firmino, or the same copy of Bernardo Silva if you expand your search.
Liverpool needs depth and variation in attack after the departure of Mane and Minamino, and Carvalho’s candidacy in the young and promising market has been one of the top choices for any top club. And by and large, remembering the failed career development of the young and promising, the Merseysiders have nothing to lose – Fabio was bought for “pennies”, so his success will be a shared success, and a failure will only affect the further career of the player.