clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Only Sunderland could loan out a flop striker & him immediately reinvent as a World Cup wingback

In the most Sunderland manner imaginable, former £10m striker Fabio Borini is reinventing himself as a wing-back with observers talking up his prospects of making next summer’s World Cup.

AC Milan v HNK Rijeka - UEFA Europa League Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images

Despite early promise as Mag-slayer and Cup final goalscorer, it would be fair to say Fabio Borini departed Wearside as anything but popular in the summer.

The Italian attacker was roughly the worst player to turn out in a Sunderland shirt in the most dismal of relegation seasons last term.

But Sunderland being Sunderland, it should come as little surprise to see Borini quickly reinvent himself at one of Europe's biggest clubs and have observers in Italy already talking up his chances of making next summer's World Cup.

Because after being hailed as AC Milan's best player in the city derby with Inter last weekend, Fabio Borini looks to have transformed himself from failed Premier League striker into promising Serie A wing-back.

FC Internazionale v AC Milan - Serie A
Borini challenges Internazionale’s Yuto Nagatomo - himself linked to Sunderland once over - in the Milan derby
Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images

And loaned out for an initial fee of €1m, it seems even more typical Sunderland that Borini will eventually rake the Black Cats a little over €5m once his transfer is made permanent next summer.

A small price to pay for Milan perhaps should the 26-year-old complete his transformation from Stadium of Light flop to World Cup star - as observers in Italy are already predicting.

In fact, such is the glee Italians are revelling in at the bargain the Rossoneri picked up from the rotting carcass of relegated Sunderland, headlines in the Milan press this week have hailed Borini as the 'best' signing made in the summer for a club which spent a cool €230m.

For a side who lashed out €38m on defender Leonardo Bonucci; €34m on striker André Silva and €23m on right-back Andrea Conti, Borini's plaudits are some feat for a man who cost relative buttons.

But it is the plight of Conti which has afforded the Sunderland man the opportunity which may yet transform his career from Premier League flop to World Cup hero.

Conti ruptured his cruciate ligament in only his second league appearance of the season for Milan. Having established himself as Italy's first choice right-back, the 22-year-old's injury was a cruel blow following his big money move from Atalanta in the summer.

Ever one to come up smelling of roses though, Borini had assailed himself in the summer upon a dubious Italian public unconvinced by the budget arrival of the man who famously couldn't get a game for Liverpool.

Middlesbrough v Sunderland - Premier League
The lowpoint? A defeated Fabio Borini at the Tees-Wear derby of 2017
Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

Promising the Milan faithful he would work tirelessly for the team, Borini has built upon the limitations Sunderland fans remember all too well to reinvent himself as the hard-working wing-back that he probably should have been all along.

It was perhaps under Sam Allardyce that Borini best displayed his potential as a tracking wide man during his spell on Wearside.

But by the time David Moyes had succeeded Big Sam, the player was already a shadow of his former self and is recalled with displeasure by Sunderland fans for his petulant, half-hearted weekly displays as the Black Cats succumbed to the drop.

But perhaps as fate always intended to decree, Sunderland will make a loss on Fabio Borini next summer when his registration finally leaves Wearside for Milan. And it would really rub it in should he take to our screens as a full back for Italy at the World Cup in Russia.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Roker Report Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of Sunderland news from Roker Report