Fabinho's fall from grace: Liverpool looking for a new 'lighthouse' after Brazilian's dramatic decline

Fabinho Liverpool 2022-23Getty Images

In the end, Arsenal had to pay £105 million to sign Declan Rice, but manager Mikel Arteta is in no doubt that the midfielder will prove excellent value for money. As far as the Spaniard is concerned, Rice is one of those rare, transformative players capable of elevating those around him to a whole new level.

"I see him like a lighthouse," Arteta said of Rice following the completion of the deal. "He is willing to shine the light on others. He improves others and makes the team better."

Listening to Arteta lavish praise on his new signing, it was impossible not to think of Liverpool midfielder Fabinho, as that's exactly the role he used to fulfil at Anfield. He was even referred to as 'The Lighthouse' by assistant coach Pep Lijnders, a thin but towering reference point within Jurgen Klopp's team.

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But not anymore. On Monday, Fabinho completed his departure from Liverpool, leaving Merseyside to join Saudi Arabian side Al-Ittihad in a £40 million ($51m) deal. Such a development would have been utterly unthinkable this time last year.

Back then, Fabinho was untouchable, arguably Liverpool's most important player from a tactical perspective. He was one of the driving forces behind the quadruple bid, illustrating precisely why Klopp nicknamed him 'Dyson' for the way in which he hoovers up loose balls in the middle of the park.

At the time, he was arguably the best player in the world in his particular position. The far more attack-minded Kevin De Bruyne and Luka Modric were the only midfielders to finish ahead of him in the 2022 Ballon d'Or vote - which is seriously impressive given how much of Fabinho's work goes under the radar.