Fabinho & Joel Matip Are Showing Why Liverpool Don't Need to Sign Another Centre-Back

James Merrills
Fabinho and Joel Matip have started to build a strong partnership in Liverpool's defence.
Fabinho and Joel Matip have started to build a strong partnership in Liverpool's defence. / Pool/Getty Images
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Liverpool have been linked with moves for a number of defenders in the January transfer window. However, there may be no need for Jurgen Klopp to dip his toe into the market if both Joel Matip and Fabinho maintain their fitness and form.

The two have struck up quite a solid partnership in recent games and both senior players have stepped up in the wake of injuries to first-choice centre-backs Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez.

Van Dijk and Gomez could miss the rest of the season
Van Dijk and Gomez could miss the rest of the season / Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

Matip initially developed a strong partnership with Van Dijk in Liverpool's second placed finish in 2018/19, but injuries and poor form saw Gomez take his place in the starting lineup last season.

Even this season he fell further down the pecking order. It was Fabinho started in defence against Chelsea in Liverpool's second game of the campaign and did very well to keep a lively Timo Werner at bay. He wasn't called upon in defence until Gomez's injury in the defeat to Aston Villa. We all know how that went...

A loss as heavy as 7-2 meant Liverpool swiftly came crashing back to Earth, but since then Fabinho has looked assured in the back four.

Since returning from a hamstring injury, he has had three clean sheets alongside Matip - coming against Leicester, Ajax and Wolves. He has stood tall in defence and helped guide Neco Williams through games in the absence of Trent Alexander-Arnold.

It seems the Brazilian enjoys his new role, too. "It has become increasingly natural. I already have some games in this position and some moves are getting more automatic," he said earlier this season, as quoted by the Daily Mail.

"In terms of positioning, I’m getting better and better. Sometimes it’s small things like a second ball, movement in pressure and reaction, things that help the midfielders. It’s something I know I have to improve."

Fabinho also believes that playing in defence has made him become more vocal on the pitch and has forced him to show leadership in the absence of Van Dijk.

Fabinho has become a key figure in a new role for Liverpool
Fabinho has become a key figure in a new role for Liverpool / Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

"This communication and leadership you notice mainly when he [Van Dijk] is not on the field," he added. "We have other communicative players, like Henderson and Milner, but the coach spoke with the backline and said that we had to learn."

If Liverpool can keep Matip and Fabinho fit throughout the season, Klopp will be more than happy given the circumstances. He also has Rhys Williams and Nat Phillips at his disposal, both of whom have shown themselves to be talented enough as deputies to the deputies.

A new defender would be forced to settle with a place on the bench when Van Dijk and Gomez return to fitness, and even then may still be behind Matip and Fabinho in the centre-back pecking order.

It's true that you don't change a winning formula, and bringing in another centre-back in January would be a very risky strategy. It would be best to wait until the summer and re-evaluate the situation then.

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