THOUSANDS of column inches have been filled over the summer on the future destination, (or not), of former Sunderland loanee Fabio Borini.
These are GRAEME ANDERSON’S first and last on the subject.
THERE has been a suggestion, possibly true, that there was method in the apparent madness of Fabio Borini’s conduct over the last transfer window.
Admittedly, from the outside it looked bizarre that he would fight to stay at Liverpool, first after the Reds accepted a more than generous £14million offer from Sunderland, and then after Anfield boss Brendan Rodgers himself made it clear he thought the striker should move on.
Having turned his back on a hero’s welcome at Sunderland, it also seemed odd that he should refuse QPR’s super-lucrative deadline-day offer.
Neither romance nor readies could tempt him to leave Liverpool, despite the club adding Mario Balotelli, Rickie Lambert and Lazar Markovic to options which include England striker Daniel Sturridge.
Now the suggestion has emerged from Italy that Borini was playing the long game, purposefully turning down moves in order to engineer a move to a top club in his home country.
The claim goes that the 23-year-old favours a return to one of the giants in his home country.
Inter Milan, Juventus and AC Milan were all linked with interest in him, but only as a loan with an option to buy.
None of the clubs were ready to stump up the £14m that Sunderland and QPR, so the belief is that Borini was prepared to reject the big summer offers from Premier League clubs – moves Liverpool favoured because of the big fee they would generate – in favour of leaving for Italy for a much lower fee in the January transfer window.
If this turns out to be the case, it is the riskiest of games for Borini to play.
It assumes a lot.
It assumes that leading Italian clubs will be interested in January.
It assumes Liverpool will accept a reduced bid in the New Year.
But, above all, it assumes Borini will return as hot property after four months when he is likely to be doing little more at Anfield than twiddling his thumbs.
Borini did well at Sunderland and the club’s coaching staff idolised him as the ideal professional – something they might be having second thoughts about now.
But while he will always have a place in the hearts of Sunderland fans for his unforgettable goals in both derby victories and his brilliant finish against Manchester City in the Capital One Cup final, his exploits did not create too many waves outside of Sunderland.
He scored only 10 goals for the Black Cats last season and four of them were from the penalty spot.
The interest shown in him this summer for a comparatively modest return last season might prove to the high-water mark in terms of his marketability.
Like another former Sunderland striker, another former hero, Darren Bent, Borini might live to regret turning his back on the Black Cats.
Bent had it all when he chose to go for the big money being offered at Aston Villa.
His career has nose-dived ever since.
Borini, like Bent, has supreme confidence in his own ability, his own sense of self-worth.
He will have to hope that he does not go the way of his predecessor in red and white.
It’s always unwise to look a gift horse in the mouth – Bent did that when he had the world at his feet at Sunderland – and Borini may have done so last month when he turned his back on big-money moves to a club that loved him, in favour of potential oblivion on Merseyside for the rest of 2014.
Judging by his tweets on transfer deadline day, Borini himself feels utterly comfortable that he has taken the right course of action.
He may well have done.
He may well also have made the worst decision of his career.
* Don’t miss the online Football Echo – it’s available on this website now
We have launched a FREE football app covering Sunderland AFC, Newcastle United and Hartlepool United.
For all the latest news, gossip and match coverage straight to your mobile and tablet, download the Football Echo now from here: