Why Would United Loan Fabio Out?
Understandably, your immediate response to his possible departure from United could be: "Good riddance."
Moyes nothing like Fergie ... On Fabio red card: "The referee called it right"— Rob Harris (@RobHarris) January 5, 2014
Should his proposed loan to Freiburg go through, you cannot help but wonder if he was forced to play out his contract away from Old Trafford.
He will not receive a contract extension at United, as per Sam Wallace at the Independent, therefore it is counterproductive for United management to start him in the reserves, as it stunts the development of a prospect.
But it would be so disrespectful to Fabio if United management told him to sit out his contract because they prefer to give a reserve player a chance, rather than give minutes to Fabio, a player with lame-duck status.
United management can spin the situation as a new challenge for Fabio.
Beggars Can't Be Choosers
Freiburg might be 16th in the Bundesliga, though there are five teams that have conceded more league goals.
In the last six league games, an injury-depleted Borussia Dortmund have let in more goals (11) than Freiburg (10).
Operating on a shoe-string budget is why Freiburg's transfer record fee is a modest £3.3 million.
Such frugalness means squad depth is thin hence why manager Christian Streich will most likely accept a giveaway in Fabio, even though defence is not a matter of pressing concern.
When defence has been a problem, it is generally centre-back Fallou Diagne's fault, who early in the season accumulated two red cards and three yellow cards in a five-game span, so all Streich needs to do is keep Diagne off the field.
Here are Fabio's rivals in the full-back slots.
Oliver Sorg, RB/LB, Age: 23
Sorg's upside trumps that of his fellow highly-rated German youth international teammates: Matthias Ginter and Oliver Baumann.
Alles Gute zum Zwanzigsten #Matze#Ginter#SCF pic.twitter.com/aZ22Jl7tjE— SC Freiburg (@sc_freiburg) January 19, 2014
FCA - SCF | 2:1 | Last-Minute-KO beim FC Augsburg. Mist... pic.twitter.com/1MFAKbJStn— SC Freiburg (@sc_freiburg) September 14, 2013
What makes Sorg unique is his adaptability in playing either right-back or left-back.
He is technically superb and thrives on taking on opposing players (averages the same amount of dribbles per league game as United's Adnan Januzaj [1.9]).
Sorg is so natural with the ball at his feet, he could be converted into a midfielder.
However, it is his world-class ball-winning prowess which makes him a player to watch out for.
He leads Freiburg in total tackles (56), tackles per game (3.7), total interceptions (41) and interceptions per game (2.7).
Streich has mainly opted to start Sorg at right-back, so Fabio can forget about playing right-back.
Christian Gunter, LB, Age: 20
Gunter is to Sorg what Immanuel Hohn is to Ginter: not as polished of a prospect, but there is potential.
Fabio has a chance to displace Gunter, Kicker's 205th-ranked Bundesliga player.
He is generally one step behind play hence why he is unsuccessful in 49 percent of his tackles.
Will today be the day for the first Bundesliga 0:0 of the season? No. Frankfurt in front now in Freiburg. Christian Günter og.— Derek Rae (@RaeComm) October 6, 2013
The conundrum Streich faces is that playing Fabio at left-back will wreck Gunter's confidence.
He is a long-term prospect while Fabio is a stopgap measure.
Fabio To Move Into Midfield?
When Arsenal loanee Francis Coquelin arrived at Freiburg, he probably expected to play in central midfield or at full-back; instead, manager Streich started Coquelin on the wings, instructing him to be a second full-back.
"Fabio played much more [away] from left-back than at left-back, popping up frequently in the penalty area," Vickery wrote. "It could be that Fabio's long-term future will be as a wide midfielder."
The reason why Freiburg are headed for a relegation play-off (17th and 18th get relegated; 16th faces third-best 2. Bundesliga team) is not their defence, it is their impotent attack.
Freiburg have scored the second least amount of goals (16) in the Bundesliga behind Eintracht Braunschweig (10), so Streich may view Fabio as a winger.
Though, the right-wing belongs to Jonathan Schmid, who has more league assists (five) than Schalke's Julian Draxler and Bayern Munich's Mario Gotze (four).
On the left wing, the two main contenders for a starting position are Wolfsburg loanee Vaclav Pilar and Coquelin, on loan from Arsenal.
Pilar is a lively dribbler, but he has not scored or created a goal in league play.
Coquelin provides defensive cover, but offers next-to-nothing in the attacking half (has not even completed one successful cross yet).
In between the two would be Fabio: can charge forward yet also makes tackles.
Here is the stark reality: Fabio will have to adapt to a new league, embrace a different culture, overcome the communication barrier, make new friends in a highly-stressful working environment and attempt to win a starting position.
It's as if United do not want Fabio to succeed.
Here is why that theory would make sense.
His contract runs out in the summer and he has voiced his preference to leave United, as per Jamie Sanderson at The Metro.
If Fabio was to play at an elite standard at a more stable club than Freiburg, it would project badly on embattled United manager David Moyes.
United management know Fabio's chances of being a breakout star at Freiburg are minimal.
You may not rate Fabio as a player worthy of the United shirt ,but wish him luck as he plays for a new contract elsewhere.