Pitchside

Why Fabio Borini can still become a Liverpool star

Pitchside

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Fabio Borini has seemingly made the shock decision to turn down a move to Sunderland in favour of fighting for his place at Liverpool next season. It is very rare that a player turns down a move generally when offered one, given the inherent financial reward found in signing a new contract, never mind to a club that he already knows well.

It suggests something significant about Borini. Unlike most, he clearly never saw his move to Sunderland as an opportunity to secure a permanent transfer, instead as a chance to prove to Brendan Rodgers that he had made the right decision in signing him in the first place.

It cannot be forgotten that Borini was very much the marquee signing when Rodgers first took over at Anfield. His £11 million purchase represented a genuine shift from the policy that came before, not a Premier League stalwart like Stewart Downing or Jordan Henderson. Admittedly, the Italian had worked with Rodgers before at both Chelsea and Swansea but this was a relatively exciting signing from abroad to kick off a new regime.

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A series of injuries hampered him significantly in that first season. Having scored on his debut in Europe, he picked up an injury in October that ruled him out for three months. A further shoulder injury in February curtailed his progress, yet again, something which now, in light of the injury sustained against Roma during Wednesday night's pre-season friendly, appears like it could be a recurrent problem.

Borini's time at Sunderland should, therefore, have reasonably been consider a chance for him to settle fully into the English game. This is something he did with aplomb, becoming more and more important as the season went on. His performances under Gus Poyet were so impressive that Sunderland fans embraced him fully, and the Mackems would likely have gone down without his contribution. He also helped a struggling side reach the League Cup final, an immense achievement despite the result on the day.

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Borini, therefore, returned to Anfield this summer as a significantly stronger player, one who has a full season without significant injury and 52 Premier League appearances behind him.

Liverpool have also lost their talismanic striker Luis Suarez to Barcelona. Borini tends to occupy the same position Suarez did, as a left sided right-footed forward. He could be a real aid as a squad player alone this year, given Liverpool's increased schedule as a result of their involvement in the Champions League. Despite their additions this summer, the Merseyside club have, at best, only one other player who could realistically occupy this position in Lazar Markovic, and he is still exceptionally young.

Even so, Borini showed through his efforts for Sunderland last year that he is willing to work hard to help a side. It would not be surprising to see him apply that same type of work ethic to cement a place in Liverpool's plans for next season over the course of pre-season.

The Italian deserves great credit for not simply jumping ship at the first opportunity, and if he believes he can have an impact on Liverpool's season next year, he might just be worth retaining, given his displays in a vastly poorer side last term. Borini rejecting a move away could ultimately be to Liverpool's benefit, even if they have not yet realised it.

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