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Ex-Lazio star on chase for Sunderland man - 'if you aim high, Borini is not the player to change the team'

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As speculation mounts that Fabio Borini is on the verge of joining Lazio, a former player for the Rome-based club has questioned whether the Sunderland man will really be a good signing.

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Former Lazio striker Fabio Poli has told Italian radio he has doubts over the Rome club's imminent signing of Sunderland attacker Fabio Borini. The 26-year-old is on the verge of a move back to Italy in an initial €1m loan deal with Lazio having an option to make the deal a permanent one for €4.5m.

Sunderland v West Ham United - Premier League Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Borini has spent three seasons at the Stadium of Light playing over eighty games but scoring just fourteen times. In truth, the 26-year-old has gone from fleeting terrace hero to something of a derided figure on Wearside.

And in an interview with Radio Olympia, Poli - who played over 50 games for Lazio in the 1980s - suggested the Serie A club should have been tracking Borini's form in England before moving to sign him:

We should have followed him to understand how he is. He has great physical strength and temperament. But we must analyse the last few years. However he is still young and with a suitable environment can find the right path.

But with a Europa League campaign to come and an aim to build on a fifth place finish in Serie A, Poli believes Lazio should be aiming higher in their transfer business this summer:

However, if Lazio are trying to aim high, it is not the player Borini that changes your team.

And those words will resonate with Sunderland supporters who watched aghast as Borini - a £10m signing from Liverpool in 2015 - wafted through last season as if a relegation fight was nothing to do with him.

That Borini endured a disappointing end to his spell at Sunderland appears not to have put off his current admirers which is said to also include AC Milan. Celtic, Fiorentina and Bologna have also been linked with the Italian in recent weeks but with less resources than the big few in Serie A, the player's wages likely put those clubs off.

Playing in a failing squad and led by an unpopular manager in a side which wound up relegated, Borini's paltry two goals in twenty-four appearances last term can be in part explained. But the fact he scored just three more in a relatively prolific campaign the year before should also be noted.

Borini's highlights in a Sunderland shirt are historic ones - relative to the dross served up during the past few years at the Stadium of Light.

The goals against Newcastle and the strike which provided the lead in a precious forty-five minutes of Capital One Cup final action will perhaps cement his place in wistful affections once the memory of his shoulder shrugged, huffing and puffing demeanour from 2017 is misted by time.

Equally, Borini's time at Sunderland will now be remembered for episodes like that carefully stage-managed knee slide in front of David Moyes as he scored his second goal of the season against West Ham in April.

Sunderland v West Ham United - Premier League
Borini's ludicrous knee slide
Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Borini had been keen to portray himself in the Italian media as being played out of position under Moyes so that goal celebration was more than likely some culmination of point-proving.

In March, the Italian had suggested to the press in his homeland that his goal drought was due to being played in different positions and not being utilised as a central striker as was his preference, but in truth Borini has rarely been used as such in English football and his alternating across the front line has been a feature ever since he first signed for Sunderland.

And then there was the odd incident during the Tees-Wear derby in which Borini appeared to respond to taunts from the Sunderland support of 'you're not fit to wear the shirt' by handing his top to a Middlesbrough fan.

Later explained as due to the 'Boro supporter in question being hit with a ball kicked by the Italian attacker, those who were at the match have suggested there was still some animosity from the player towards the Sunderland faithful who had hailed him as something of a hero during his first spell on Wearside in the 2013/14 season.

Middlesbrough v Sunderland - Premier League Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

Gus Poyet had pursued Borini in a protracted chase after his first season on loan but the Italian would opt to fight for a place in the Liverpool side before finally abandoning that dream and signing on a permanent basis for Sunderland in the summer of 2015.

In truth, it's difficult to tell whether he had ever really had any great desire to come to the Stadium of Light or whether the Black Cats were merely one of the few clubs willing to pay him what he wanted at the time. But buoyed by goodwill carried over from his first spell and aided by some clever social media activity, Borini was welcomed fervently by the Sunderland faithful during his first season as a permanent addition.

Under Sam Allardyce last season Borini proved his worth, but more as a hard-working defensive winger than the promising striker he had arrived in England tagged as.

Once Big Sam departed for England Borini's heart for Sunderland evaporated and after an injury at the start of the season ruled him out for three months, the player failed to put in a single decent performance and was regarded in some quarters as roughly the worst individual in a bad squad that ultimately succumbed to the drop.