Well, I suspect most of us didn’t see this one coming. Liverpool striker Fabio Borini could be heading back to Wearside on loan according to reports. The Italian looked all set to join Fiorentina but The Sun broke the news earlier that a deal between the Black Cats and Borini was all but done.
As we all know Borini turned down the chance to join us on a permanent basis during last summer’s transfer window while Gus Poyet was still in charge. At the time supporters viewed this as very much a snub by the 24 year old. However, on balance, it could also owe a lot to the confidence he has in his own abilities. After a successful loan spell at Sunderland, which included a goal at Wembley Stadium and derby day goals against Newcastle, it could be argued a player riding high on a wave of success would want to take the opportunity to test themselves at their more ambitious parent club.
Whatever your personal view on the matter it’s difficult to determine at this stage whether the transfer will come to fruition. Local reports appear to indicate that any potential transfer is at an early stage - certainly not as advanced as the national newspapers have reported. The truth is likely to lie somewhere in between.
Interestingly, while being interviewed on BBC Radio Newcastle's TotalSport, Sunderland Captain John O’Shea was asked about the matter on air. O’Shea said:
"I know the type of character he is – and obviously you saw it yourself on the pitch, how he plays. He is so positive so in Fabios’s mind he was going back to Liverpool to play, to break in. Obviously it didn’t go to plan for him, so now he’s got another step in his career to make."
The most intriguing aspect of the story is how it appears to have come from so far left field. Given the passage of time most supporters had, by now, accepted that it was unlikely Borini would ever return to Wearside. Indeed a move abroad or to a London team appeared to be his most likely destination. However perhaps the Black Cats have chosen to make a late move for the Italian owing to Adam Johnson’s long-term shoulder injury. Johnson will not be part of the squad for at least 8 weeks and in addition his legal proceedings are still pending.
On this basis, a move for Borini seems to make more sense. Assuming Advocaat continues to deploy a 4-3-3 formation Borini could occupy the left or a three-man midfield and Lens could be moved over to the right. Ironically Lens was brought to the club to take up the ‘Borini role’, which we’ve struggled to fill since his departure.
Whatever the position might be, it’s hoped that any incoming transfers show the qualities that Borini brought with him during his time at the club. We certainly need a big game player. While Borini didn’t hit the net often, he scored important goals and when they were really needed. In my view, if he again decides not to join, the alternative should be of the same mould.