Fabinho admits he “hoped” Liverpool would sign his Brazilian compatriot Raphinha in the summer transfer window, with the Leeds winger a long-term target.
The pair are growing accustomed to each other on the international stage, but Fabinho was looking to line up alongside Raphinha at club level this season, too.
Liverpool have long been credited with an interest in the 24-year-old, who made his Brazil debut with two assists in the 3-1 win over Venezuela earlier this month and will start together with Fabinho against Uruguay on Friday.
According to the Independent‘s Melissa Reddy, the Reds began to follow Raphinha after a breakout display at the Copa Sao Paulo under-20s tournament in 2016, with regular links ever since.
In February, the winger was touted as a summer target, though the Yorkshire Post‘s Graham Smyth insisted in June that while the club “definitely have interest,” Liverpool have “never made contact” with Leeds over a deal.
With his skill, pace and ability to decide games, the right-sided attacker seems the perfect fit for Jurgen Klopp‘s attack – as Fabinho told reporters this week, relayed by UOL.
“Since he arrived in the Premier League he has had very good performances and highlights,” he said.
“For Liverpool, I was hoping that would happen. But in the end, he stayed with Leeds.
“He’s Leeds‘ best player today. Whenever we play against them, we know he’s the player who can cause the most danger.”
Liverpool tracked Raphinha’s progress throughout spells with Sporting CP and Rennes, but his time in the Premier League could convince analysts, scouts and coaches that he is now ready to step up.
So far for Leeds, he has scored nine goals and assisted another nine in 38 appearances, with three goals coming in seven games this campaign.
His profile has been boosted further following his call-up to Tite’s Brazil squad, and his performances throughout the October break suggest he can remain a long-term fixture for the Selecao.
“The characteristic he has is very unique, of a left-footed player who pushes up and can go both ways, in and out,” Fabinho continued.
“This is very important for the national team. He is a guy who has a lot of personality, and has already proven that it can help us a lot.”
It is likely that Liverpool will seek reinforcements in attack, either in January or next summer, and Raphinha, along with the likes of Jeremy Doku and Arnaut Danjuma, should be a target.