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Fabio: à la Bale?

Sid Tuesday, March 22, 2011

When Fabio and Rafael joined the club 3 years ago, all the excitement surrounding them was mainly focused on Fabio. He was considered the more talented of the twins and also was the captain of the Brazil U-17 team at the time. But since their arrival at Old Trafford, it has been Rafael who’s career has just taken off, leaving older brother Fabio in his dust!

There are several factors that have caused their varying progress at the club, Fabio though right footed, is a Left Back, and unfortunately for him, his competition for the spot is probably the best Left back in the world, Patrice Evra. Whereas, when Rafael joined, we were in the midst of  Wes Brown and Gary Neville’s injury problems, leading to him getting opportunities to showcase his talents! Fabio has also had torrid luck with injuries, spending most of last season on the treatment table with varying injuries, though luckily nothing serious!

In the past two seasons, Fabio had struggled to get first team chances, and was always on the fringes. But this season has seen him being given several opportunities, and Fabio has been impressive every time has been on the pitch, especially with respect to the attacking side of his game.

So far this season, Fabio has made 15 appearances for the first team. Including 5 in Europe (3 of which have been starts), 5 in the domestic cups and 5 in the league; all his appearances in the league have come as a sub.

Fabio, like his brother, is known for the energy that he displays on the pitch. Blessed with great pace and a low center of gravity, his agility and skill are his best attributes. Though mainly used as a defender, his defensive abilities are far from the mark. He’s very prone to be caught out of position often and also tends to get over zealous with his tackling at times. Fabio has been injury prone and also lacks the stamina to last the entire 90 minutes of a match, a part of his game that needs urgent attention!

For me, Fabio seems to be at his best and uninhibited self when he’s being played as a winger, not saddled with defensive responsibilities. Fabio ability to use both his feet means he can play down either wing, adding versatility to his game, and given that he can also provide decent crosses and also dribble past players, it makes him a good option on both wings.

His defensive struggles remind me another player who faced similar problems, a Welshman named Gareth Bale. Bale was initially signed as a Left back by Tottenham, but his defensive fragility was easily exposed and eventually lead him being dropped from the team. But last season, he reinvented himself, playing further up the pitch; playing as a left winger, he was devastating, making full use of his great burst of pace, and quick feet. He made the so called “best right back in the world” Maicon look slow and cumbersome!!

Fabio might be defensively better than Bale, but his style of play seem to indicate a future as an attacking player rather than as a defender. I think we can save spending millions looking to buy a winger and instead give Fabio a chance, he might just start showing what he’s truly capable of?!


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