Gary Neville believes Fabinho is currently the best holding midfielder in the world, and held up Liverpool’s No. 3 as a role model for young players in his position.
Tall, strong, quick, alert, composed and ruthless, he is a model defensive midfielder, and one Liverpool have been desperate for since the departure of Javier Mascherano to Barcelona in 2010.
West Ham‘s Declan Rice name-checked four others he watches to “picks little bits out of their game” in an interview on Sky Sports’ Monday Night Football as Fernandinho, Rodri, Michael Carrick and Sergio Busquets.
Neville later added in his analysis that Fabinho should be considered too, as he doesn’t “just shuffle across and make it look simple.”
“I think Fabinho at the moment is the best,” he said when outlining the finest examples for Rice.
“Because what Fabinho does, actually, he doesn’t sit back in games—these holding midfield players who play horizontally, passes sideways and shift that way when they’re shuttling across.
“Fabinho plays vertically as well, he goes forward with his passes, he moves forward and steps in and wins the ball back.
“I think the best holding midfield players aren’t just people who just shuffle across and make it look simple, they also step into the game as well.
“So for me, there’s a lot of development for [Rice] to do.
“He’s just said the right thing: he’s watching the best players, and developing in doing that. So that’s a good thing.”
Neville referenced Fabinho on a number of occasions on Monday night, and though it would be unfair to suggest bias would come into his analysis, it is telling that he has acknowledged the Brazilian’s impact.
He and Jamie Carragher later debated whether a top-six side should target Rice, who is rumoured to be valued at up to £90 million, and this only further highlights Fabinho as a bargain signing.