Liverpool's Fabinho rewarded for keeping faith

Brazil midfielder Fabinho has declared he never had any doubts he would be a success at Liverpool, despite his early struggles to make the starting line-up.

Fabinho is expected to feature on Saturday when Liverpool face Tottenham in the Champions League final in Madrid.

The 25-year-old has established himself as a key player for Jurgen Klopp's side, but had to wait for his chance after arriving from Monaco last July.

Fabinho did not make a Premier League start until October 27 and he conceded it took him some time after that before he started to feel comfortable in English football.

He believes the turning point came with his second league start, a 1-1 draw at Arsenal on November 3.

Lucas Torreira and Granit Xhaka overshadowed the Brazilian, who looked off the pace in midfield as he strained to keep up with the flow of the game.

But Fabinho now says that was the match when he began to understand exactly what was required of him in the Premier League.

His confidence began to grow, leading to his first stand-out performance in a Liverpool shirt, when he created a goal for Sadio Mane in a 3-1 victory over Manchester United on December 16.

"I knew it would be difficult, and that there would be times that I would be out of the team, but in terms of adapting, there was a lot of preparation and a lot of hard work," Fabinho said.

"There were two games in particular that stood out for me. There was the game against Arsenal, because that's when I really understood the speed of the Premier League, and the attention to detail that's required.

"In terms of building my confidence, the stand-out game was against Manchester United. It was probably one of the best games of the season.

"I managed to get an assist in that game and I really kept up with the rhythm and pace, and I felt we were much superior to Manchester United."

Despite his initial difficulties, Fabinho never questioned his decision to join Liverpool.

- Intensity -

"No, for me, it was never in doubt that I'd made the right choice," he said.

"Not every player transfers to a new club and gets straight into the team, as was my case, and everybody told me that's how the coach works with new players; they're not automatically thrown into the first team straight away."

Having become a regular in Liverpool's midfield over the second half of the season, Fabinho feels he has adjusted to the pace and physical demands of the Premier League.

"Before I came here, the English league stood out as fast and physical, and also as having a really great set-up, and I've seen that playing here," he said.

"The thing you see about the league is the intensity and high quality of all the teams you come up against. But what also caught my attention after I came here were the recovery times between games.

"That was difficult for me at first. That's an area that I've improved in, and that's really helped me settle in the Premier League."

The Brazilian watched on television as Liverpool lost last season's Champions League final to Real Madrid, already knowing that he was on his way to Anfield.

"I watched it, and at the time, I knew I was coming here to Liverpool," he said.

"I didn't really think about where I'd fit in to the team, or my position; I was watching it as a fan.

"I wasn't really focusing tactically. What really captured me was the passion of the fans.

"Collectively, as a group, I think we've surpassed our already high expectations, given the success that we've had in the Premier League and the Champions League. Overall, it's been an excellent year."

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