In football, whenever a manager takes a new job the press will always link him with a move (sometimes they may mix it up a bit and label it as a ‘swoop’ or a ‘raid’) for players from his previous club. That hasn’t quite been the case for Brendan Rodgers, the new Liverpool manager, as upon him leaving Swansea City to join the Reds he agreed not to attempt to sign any of their players for at least a year. Still, this hasn’t deterred him from trying to sign players who shone in South Wales but are not owned by Swansea, with Gylfi Sigurdsson, the Hoffenheim player who impressed at the Swans under Rodgers whilst on loan there last season, believed to be close to sealing a move to Anfield. Over the past week, Liverpool have been strongly linked with Fabio Borini, the ex-Chelsea forward who, like Sigurdsson, impressed during a loan spell at Swansea – but the pair also worked together for a few years at Chelsea.
Given Liverpool’s difficulties in front of goal last season, bringing in a new striker to help ease the goalscoring burden on Carroll and Suarez is a must, and Borini seems to the fit the bill in that respect, yet he also offers something different to what the Reds already have; not only is he able to score goals but, having worked closely with him for several years, clearly Rodgers sees him as the ideal forward for his system. Borini was prolific at reserve team level at Chelsea whilst the Ulsterman was in charge of the reserves, and the Italian forward has also been very complimentary of the role Rodgers played in helping him develop as a player, as well as giving him his first chance of regular competitive football when he joined Swansea for two months at the end of the 2010/11 season.
It is easy to see why Rodgers is keen to bring the striker to Liverpool. Whilst he isn’t the most physically dominant player around, Borini is technically gifted, possessing the ability to lead the line and hold the ball up with his intelligent movement and running, relying on guile more than strength. He likes to play on the shoulder of the last defender and, when he is in front of goal, he shows composure that belies his tender years; he seems to pass the ball in the net rather than blast it, showing confidence in his own ability. Whilst over recent years most Italian players that have come to England struggled to adapt and left after a year or two, but having spent four years here, that shouldn’t be a problem for Borini, particularly after a season back in his homeland.
Now that the striker’s immediate future has been resolved it is easier for teams – particularly those outside of Italy - to negotiate a potential deal
Borini was one of the few bright spots in an otherwise disappointing season for the Giallorossi as they again failed to secure Champions League football. Having already revamped their strikeforce by signing Pablo Osvaldo and Bojan Krkic from Espanyol and Barcelona respectively, Borini was originally brought in more as one for the future, but he took full advantage of his chances and as the season progressed he became a more important player for Roma as the season went on. His return of 10 goals in 20 starts is not too shabby for a maiden season as a first-team player – particularly in one of Europe’s big leagues – and he will only continue to improve the more he plays.
His move to the capital was a prime example of the complex merry-go-round transfer system thatis seen as the norm Calcio. Having joined Parma on a bosman last summer after his contract at Chelsea expired, Roma took Borini on a season-long on transfer deadline day of the same window. It may seem odd for a club like Parma to loan him out when they had only recently signed him but, in Italy, players are often used like pawns: bought to be used as a makeweight with other teams for other transfers. Roma originally paid a €1.25m fee to take him on loan, then paid €2.3m plus they sent Stefano Okaka on loan to Parma for 50% of Borini’s rights in January, and finally paid around €5.3m for Parma’s remaining 50% share in the player to buy him outright, putting the total cost at roughly €9m. The season before last, Genoa signed Kevin-Prince Boateng from Portsmouth and then immediately sent him out on loan to Milan, who he eventually signed for permanently in almost identical circumstances to the Borini deal.
Now that the striker’s immediate future has been resolved it is easier for teams – particularly those outside of Italy - to negotiate a potential deal now he is owned by just the one club. Roma would probably prefer to keep hold of Borini after he impressed last season, and Zdeněk Zeman, their new coach, is renowned for playing an aggressive 4-3-3 formation so Borini could potentially play as a wide forward as well as through the middle - but with Osvaldo and Krkic both also at the club, it is likely they would be willing to sell for the right price; they are believed to be looking for a fee of around €15m (£12m), which would represent a tidy profit on what they have already invested in the striker.
Borini featured regularly for the Azzurri at all youth team levels and made his senior team debut in a friendly against the USA in February. Had Giuseppe Rossi not reinjured his right anterior cruciate ligament in April which ruled him out until 2013, then it is unlikely that Borini would have been called up to Cesare Prandelli’s squad for the European Championships - but that he got the nod over the likes of Pablo Osvaldo, Alessandro Matri and Giampaolo Pazzini serves as a good indication of how highly-rated he is in the peninsula. Whilst he is yet to feature for Italy in the tournament, and probably will not get the chance to do so unless someone gets injured, the experience of being with the squad at such a big tournament will benefit him and, should be continue to progress, he has the potential to become a integral part of La Nazionale for the next decade.
Liverpool fans should be hoping that come the start of the next season, Borini will have swapped St. Peter’s Square for Concert Square.
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