Fabinho has backed Darwin Nunez and Luis Diaz to step up in Sadio Mane’s absence for Liverpool. However, he acknowledged the Uruguay striker might need time to adapt to the Premier League.
Liverpool narrowly missed out on a historic quadruple last term, winning both domestic cups but finishing as runners-up in the Premier League and Champions League as Mane scored 23 goals in all competitions.
The off-season has seen Jurgen Klopp remould his attack after Mane left for Bayern Munich, signing Nunez from Benfica in a deal worth up to £85million (€100.5m). At the same time, Diaz made a positive impact after joining Porto in January.
While Fabinho acknowledged Mane is a “big loss” for Liverpool, he remains confident the Reds’ new-look attack will fire them into contention for more silverware next campaign.
Fabinho told the Athletic:
“Darwin may need a bit of time to adapt, let’s see, but a player like him can change a team.
“He’s a proper number nine. He’s a goalscorer. He scored in both games against us in the Champions League. So we know how good he is.
“Even though we lost Sadio, I still believe we can fight for everything. The team is still solid.
“For a long time, it was always Sadio on the left side. But we have Luis on the left side, and we saw how well he played in the second half of last season. So Luis will become increasingly important.
“At the end of the season, I spoke a lot with Sadio. He told me about the situation and that he could leave. I always said to him, ‘come on, Sadio, stay here. You can win the Premier League and the Champions League right here, don’t leave. But I think he had already made his mind up. We had to respect that.
“Sadio had a perfect story in a Liverpool shirt. He played for six years here, and during that time, he won everything you can win, and he decided he wanted a new challenge. That’s okay.
“After the parade in Liverpool, everyone said goodbye to him. We knew there was a good chance he would be leaving. I always kept some hope that he would still stay, but then it was all confirmed.
“Losing Sadio is a big loss. He was one of our best players, but it’s something that we can’t change. We have to deal with it. Now other players have to step up and take on greater responsibility.”
Next season will also see Fabinho assume a key role as Brazil look to end a 20-year wait for a World Cup win in Qatar, with the Selecao beginning their campaign against Serbia on November 24.
And the midfield enforcer admitted that ending his nation’s prolonged drought is in his thoughts as he suggested the tournament timing could be a positive for players.
“For us as players, I think it’s good for us that the World Cup will be in November and December.
“Maybe we’ll be in our best shape of the season around that time of year.
“One of my big targets for the season is to play in the World Cup and try to win it for my country.
“It’s been 20 years since Brazil last won the World Cup, and the people at home want us to win it for the sixth time.
“I’m focused on giving my maximum to play a good season for Liverpool, but I can’t lie. The World Cup is also in my thoughts.”
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