Liverpool are absolutely dependent on having a powerful presence in the center of the park. Fabinho allows TAA and Robbo to play farther forward. It changes everything. The press is far more effective. The CB pair (including a VVD that, while fantastic, isn’t who we was before that punk blew his ACL out) gains protection. Fab also creates incredibly timed overloads that are particularly good at making Salah and TAA so lethal
Thiago is, well, Thiago. He’s a quarterback. He becomes a focus that creates space anywhere within 50 yards.
Liverpool can usually get by with one of the two. When they have both they’re the CL-contender. When both go down… There are effective pieces but no way to play the same brand. The midfield instantly loses cohesion, the press breaks down, the wingbacks stat home, and the guys up front are forced to play deeper to come get the ball.
I don’t see how they can find a superstar to fill that void right now. Hell, United probably just snapped up the guy that could have done it, but I’d balk at that price anyway. Frankie De Jong, maybe? Too bad Wini ended up loaned to Roma (not to mention what happened to the poor guy once there).
This doesn’t seem like a fixable personnel problem right now. It feels like a system tweak will be needed, and it’ll be a hell of a testament to Klopp if he can pull it off.