Are Liverpool The Right Club for Fabio Borini?

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On-going speculation and several transfer links with other clubs has clouded what might have been a pleasant summer holiday for Fabio Borini.

Whilst most ‘fringe’ players would enjoy attracting interest from other Premier League clubs offering regular first-team action, Borini was having none of it. After enjoying a successful campaign on loan at Sunderland last season, it seemed logical that the Italian would become a permanent fixture in Gus Poyet’s squad.


Last season, Borini netted seven goals in 32 Premier League appearances, leading the Sunderland attack alongside Conor Wickham. Adding a further two assists, with some of his goals proving very important against the likes of Newcastle United and Chelsea, the striker was essential to Sunderland’s Capital One Cup win.

Poyet was quick to showcase his appreciation of the striker’s input and publicly announced he would ‘do everything possible to keep Fabio at the club.’

However, after failing to agree personal terms with the northern club, he was given another opportunity on the final day of the transfer window when Harry Redknapp’s interest came to light.

QPR’s offer of £10m plus add-one was accepted by Liverpool but it seems Borini’s wage demands were far too much for the London club.

He took to twitter to voice his delight in staying at Anfield, “I protected the MAN and the player I am today…taking all the responsibility of the situation and for people who didn’t want it…and I am VERY happy with myself to have taken such an important decision.” His happiness wasn’t mirrored by all fans however, claiming his wage demands were too greedy.

Borini was sent out on loan last season presumably as he was deemed an unnecessary squad member. He could be forgiven for believing he had a chance to fight his way into the squad when he returned from his loan spell as third-choice striker. However, it was clear Rodgers didn’t consider the Italian in his plans.

He hasn’t featured in any of Rodgers’ squads so far in the opening weeks of the season and with the addition of Mario Balotteli, he’s been pushed even further down the pecking order. Daniel Sturridge remains the key man, with Balotelli and Lambert providing supporting roles but it’s difficult to see where Borini will fit into Brendan Rodgers’ plans.

Perhaps the collapse of the sale of Fabio Borini was Brendan Rodgers’ biggest transfer fail in the summer? Clearly not in his plans, the manager has brought in two new faces but now has four strikers in his squad. With Champions League football awaiting Liverpool this season, four strikers may be a good thing though. Whilst Sturridge and Balotelli provide the probable starting combination, Lambert and Borini would be a strong back-up choice for Rodgers.

However, most Liverpool fans and you’d imagine their manager too, would have been extremely pleased with the sale of their fourth choice striker for around £10m plus add-ons, especially as Balotelli was brought so cheaply.

Whilst there is the suggestion Borini was simply being greedy in his personal demands, there is of course the possibility of him just being ambitious. Did his reference to ‘protecting the man he is’ imply he wanted to stay and fight for his place in the Liverpool team?

Admirable that would be, it’s hard to believe that really was his true intention given his position in the squad pecking order.

His ‘personal demands’ may differ in January depending on Rodgers’ use of the striker in the coming months but I think it’s fair to suggest most Liverpool fans won’t be expecting to see his name on the team sheet regularly. Perhaps Sunderland or QPR would have been better suited for the striker.

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  1. I’m fortunate to have been a Reds fan long enough to remember John Aldridge and David Fairclough and suspect there is every possibility that Borini could develop into a similar quality finisher who consistently takes his chances, as evidenced by his goal in the League Cup Final and the confidence with which he takes penalties. I personally admire his commitment to stay and suspect his apparent salary demands were a mechanism he used to ensure he did not move from a club where most players would give their eye teeth to join without feeling he had been given every opportunity to produce his best form.

    Injuries are always a factor especially in a physically demanding league like the Premier and that is why the squad has been developed, especially over this Summer, to at last have at least two quality players in each position. I remember when internationals would sign for Liverpool and spend a period ‘on probation’ learning the Liverpool Way in the reserves.

    I really hate to mention this, but ManU’s success over the two decades when we have too rarely seriously challenged them and others for the title, has been built around offensive football including four quality strikers. Time after time they finished off weaker teams 3-0 featuring not only strong defence and midfield but also relentless attacking football. It must have been great to watch for their fans and the neutrals, but not for we LFC fans who had previously admired such qualities in our own teams.

    As Monty Python say, ‘during the meanwhile’ we often struggled to maintain 1-0 leads against weaker opposition partially because we lacked the same attacking philosophy and dare I say not only mindset but perhaps also similar quality personnel.

    Ferguson’s greatest achievement since Aberdeen has perhaps been his most recent title wins and near miss when City pipped them as he probably had the weakest squad and indeed poorest midfield of his tenure. Had Rooney and / or RVP not been firing they would not have won their most recent titles. Ironically their 1999 European Cup win, after Bayern hit the woodwork four ? times, was when their 3rd and 4th strikers produced the goods in the closing minutes. So what would United have won since 1990 had they not had four top quality strikers well capable of strong finishing? And had the vision to buy Cantona and later Keane??

    So it seems odd when the LFC squad is being developed to have 2 or more top players per position, hence potentially 4 strikers, that efforts should be made to offload a player who was unfortunate from the outset with injuries and performed well in a struggling team propping up the rest of the league for much of last season. Was it pure opportunism and a desire to make some sales that led to a strong Sunderland offer being accepted by LFC? Had Borini not performed well for Sunderland the opportunity wouldn’t have arisen.

    I thought the idea was to send younger players out on loan to play more regularly, develop further and become better players? If they perform, they return, if not, they move on! Yet Borini performed, created and scored, despite often being used out wide! So surely he should return to his parent club?

    Borini clearly maintained his personal self-belief despite playing in a team which was severely lacking in confidence for much of the season, not something many strikers are known for, so perhaps such qualities can be astutely availed of by LFC whose managerial team includes a top sports psychologist?

    I’m sure that is what he would have expected expected – to return to LFC and be given the opportunity to produce his best and develop further under a coach and management team which has already demonstrated admirable (and too rare) ability to improve players previously rated as under achievers or difficult to manage.

    My only concern is that Borini will not be treated equally and receive a fair opportunity. Whatever people may say about Robbie Keane, and he missed a sitter showboating in one of his first matches, a European qualifier, it seems he may have received insufficient encouragement. Strikers live on confidence (look at post LFC Torres) yet just when Keane hit form with some classy finishes, which astutely managed could have resulted in a 2009 league title, he was dropped again. I can only assume he spoke out of turn?

    I travelled with my son from Dublin for the Fulham match in November 2008? when, with Gerrard injured, Alonso was left on the bench. Torres and Keane ran their hearts out but Mascherano and Lucas lacked the creativity to supply one decent through ball for them. It was only when Alonso came on with 3/4 of the game gone that quality passes to the strikers commenced. Too little too late and a 0-0 draw robbed us of half the points we eventually lost the title to United by.

    Imagine how an in-form Torres and Keane duo could be performing under the style of football Brendan Rogers has introduced! Scoring opportunities galore!

    So Keane left the club he supported as a kid, presumably frustrated not to even make the bench for the first time in his career, just as the January transfer window closed. I who has seen all his Irish performances, without which we would have qualified for nothing, was equally frustrated. Can anyone remember what happened the following week or so? Torres picked up an injury. Keane just missed out (had he had the courage to persevere in a difficult environment at a great club) on what could have been his golden opportunity to more regularly produce his best a la Arsenal and WBA.

    Pettiness and stubbornness may well have cost us the 2009 title, although not all Irish based Reds fans would agree. They would also blame Roy Keane for his premature 2002 World Cup departure. But easy players are easy for managers to manage. Their real challenge is managing the difficult players. Forcing a showdown with Roy Keane in front of the entire squad could only produce one outcome. Had the otherwise admirable Mick McCarthy practiced the key managerial art of ‘public praise and private criticism’ perhaps Roy Keane would have accompanied his team mates from poor facilities in Saipan to a superior setup in Japan and instead of losing a penalty shoot-out to Spain may well have progressed to the quarter finals in a competition lacking in true quality.

    So who knows how Ireland could have done had Roy Keane stayed and how Liverpool may have done had Robbie Keane stayed?

    Why do I mention this? Fabio Borini has shown glimpses of what it takes to become a great striker. The Liverpool style has changed over the last 100 matches and his finishing skills perhaps surpass his creative talents, but all teams need quality finishers and he may just be capable of Aldridge style finishing in a team which demonstrably creates opportunities.

    My concern is that Borini may not get the opportunity. But Brendan Rogers appears to be a very astute man-manager. I am fortunate to have worked with organisations on all continents and my test of a great manager is simple – someone who consistently gets the best out of everyone he/she is tasked to manage.

    Brendan has displayed this amongst many other qualities and I see no reason for any form of pettiness or stubbornness to intrude in putting the success of the team before all other considerations.

    While the LFC squad now has many potential scorers in its ranks outside the pure strikers and perhaps more creativity in the squad than at any time since 1990, the team still needs finishers and Borini seems to offer the potential to become a strong finisher.

    Remember it isn’t that long ago when Luis Suarez during his first season was not considered to be a consistent finisher?

    The transfer window is over and Fabio Borini has displayed a great commitment to a club where injury prevented him performing at his best on arrival. Others – with a weaker mentality – would have chosen playing regularly at a lesser club over playing less regularly at a club gradually returning to it’s prior position amongst a small group of Europe’s elite.

    Perhaps it was pure financial opportunism following his good performances that led to his sale being considered, but all that is history now. LFC has a player with ability which led Rogers to pursue him for the club at a time when it lacked the offensive qualities both in players, playing style / mindset and confidence / self belief it now possesses in abundance. No mean achievement in a relatively short time.

    I expect Mario Ballotelli to improve both as a player and team-mate under Brendan Rogers and similarly expect the same with Borini. I saw Italy’s 1982 World Cup winning team play in Dublin in 1984 and few present at Dalymount then could have predicted the impact the previously banned Paolo Rossi would have had in Spain in 1982! Bryan Robson may have scored early for England v France and Northern Ireland thanks to Gerry Armstrong may have beaten the fancied hosts on their home turf, but it was the finishing skills of Paolo Rossi and creativity of his colleagues which won that World Cup for Italy.

    Borini may well have the ability to become another Paolo Rossi and Brendan Rogers and his back room team is sufficiently astute and well equipped to give him the confidence to strive for this.

    Whether you agree or disagree with his summer antics, Borini displayed a commitment to LFC which not all players fortunate to be selected every week over the last two decades have displayed. If he shows half the courage in front of goal as he did with his recent ‘career choices’, it could be a win-win for all concerned.

    As my late grandfather taught me, ‘history is history’. He wears the red, now lets’s avail of his talent.

    I believe we fans now have an onus to applaud Fabio Borini for his loyalty and commitment to our club and hopefully he and the team will benefit not only from this but also his talent and strong mindset.

    Wouldn’t it be odd if injuries and form resulted in a 19th title (and 6th European Cup?) arising from a strong contribution from a duo not only of English but also Italian strikers, neither of whom many expected to see at the club come September 1st??!!

    • Very interesting comment, Julian, thanks for your time. But I think the simple fact is that Borini clearly wasn’t wanted by Rogers. I don’t doubt his ability and I’m confident IF given the chance he will do well (and I hope he does.) Four strikers is of course a bonus too like you stated. However, I believe Rogers’ plans may be to have an out-right front man, supported by two attacking wingers (eg Sterling/Lallana/Coutinho/Markovic/Sturrdige – who may be forced out wide) and therefore, Borini is right down in the pecking order. He could’ve chosen to go on loan for another season to further improve his ability and show he is good enough for Rogers’ squad if it was his true ambition to try and make the Liverpool team. He would still have been an LFC player, but would have benefited from further regular premier league action, good coaching and responsibility at Sunderland. I hope he is given a chance and I hope he excels, but I stand by my opinion that Liverpool possibly aren’t the club for Fabio Borini at present.

  2. I think he’ll get the start for the game against Aston Villa if I’m honest. I think we have yet to see him in his preferred central role. I think him and Mario could link up well given they’ve played together already. But if we tried to sell him, that must mean that he rates Lambert more. So your article may be spot on lol. But I hope he’s given a shot this season!

    • I hope so too Mikey. You’re right he hasn’t been played in his preferred position, but as you agreed, I don’t think Brendan Rogers has any plans to explore that option. Hopefully he can continue a so far promising career as a Liverpool player.


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