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Fabinho admits to Van Dijk challenge: It’s not easy to replace the best centre-back in the world

9:28 PM SGT 22/2/19
Virgil van Dijk Liverpool 2018-19
Liverpool have looked to a versatile Brazilian to provide cover in defence this season, with more assistance required during a tie with Bayern Munich

Fabinho admits being asked to provide cover for Virgil van Dijk has not been easy, with the versatile Liverpool star conceding that “it’s not easy to replace the best centre-back in the world”.

Jurgen Klopp has been forced to get creative with a number of his team selections over recent weeks.

Untimely knocks have hindered the Reds’ cause, with the likes of Dejan Lovren and Joe Gomez picking up injuries.

Liverpool were also forced to contend with a one-match ban for Van Dijk during the first leg of their Champions League last-16 encounter with Bayern Munich.

With a £75 million ($97m) asset sidelined, Klopp turned to Fabinho for assistance and saw the Brazil international help to contain the threat of Robert Lewandowski in a 0-0 draw.

It is not the first time that the 25-year-old has been asked to fill such a role, with his ability to slot into a number of different positions proving invaluable.

Fabinho has earned plenty of praise for his performances since securing a regular role, but he is aware that he will never be a defender of Van Dijk’s considerable quality.

He told Esporte Interativo: “I was concerned at the beginning of my time here because I was not playing so much.

“But now I'm playing a lot and performing well.

“It’s not easy to replace the best centre-back in the world.

“We had some time to train in Spain. I got used to the position and we improved the communication between Joel [Matip], [Andy] Robertson, [Jordan] Henderson and me.

“We know Bayern have a great attack and it was important to keep the clean sheet.”

Liverpool will have Van Dijk back at their disposal when taking in a trip to Manchester United this weekend.

The Reds are due at Old Trafford on Sunday for what is their game in hand on current Premier League leaders and reigning champions Manchester City.

A positive result of any kind will take Klopp’s side back to the summit, but they will be eager to take maximum points heading into another testing week which is also set to deliver a home date with Watford and a Merseyside derby clash with Everton.