Chris Young column: Should Sunderland persist with Borini quest?

Fabio Borini.
Fabio Borini.
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INK SUPPLIES invariably run dry at this time of year over one particular player.

There’s always one; each January and each summer. That individual who swiftly emerges as a club’s top target but is not fortunate enough to enjoy a swift resolution over their future.

These pursuits go on, and on and on and on and on and on and on.

And then finally on one blessed day, a bid is accepted, everything gets wrapped up swiftly and everyone is left puzzled over why it took such an age for the game of transfer fee poker to be settled.

Sunderland have been relatively successful in mastering the long game over recent windows, regardless of how well the players have done when they actually arrive.

Steven Fletcher, Danny Graham and Liam Bridcutt were all eventually snared by the Black Cats after weeks of tiresome stalemate.

But given the asking price and the draw of the club Sunderland are dealing with, is it prudent for the Wearsiders to continue pursuing their principle target of this window, Fabio Borini?

Gus Poyet and Lee Congerton are unquestionably right to do everything possible to bring the popular Borini back to the Stadium of Light after such a profitable season-long loan on Wearside.

The Italian’s 10 goals at some of the most pivotal moments of the campaign understandably made him a favourite on the terraces, while his work-rate earned the favour of both coaching staff and supporters alike.

Tellingly, Borini was one of the few members of the Sunderland squad who stayed behind religiously after training every day for extra practice.

Given Borini equally enjoyed his time on the Wearside and the relationship he cultivated with supporters, it would have been ludicrously defeatist for Sunderland to rule out re-signing the 23-year-old when they drew up their shortlist of targets at the end of last season.

But is there a point where enough becomes enough in the transfer hunt? While the pursuit doesn’t necessarily need to be abandoned completely, should it be put on the back-burner while attention turns to others?

Brendan Rodgers’ sound-bites from the end of last season when he insisted Borini had a future at Liverpool were not merely hot air.

Liverpool want four frontmen at their disposal for a campaign which will have the added demands of the Champions League and Borini will take the final place in that quartet, behind Daniel Sturridge, Rickie Lambert and Luis Suarez or Alexis Sanchez - if there is a swap deal with Barcelona involving the latter pair.

The likely capture of Belgium’s teenage prospect Divock Origi won’t change that, with the striker expected to re-join Lille on a season-long loan.

Sources close to Liverpool suggest it would need a bid in excess of the £10.5million paid to sign Borini in the summer of 2012 for that situation to change.

There have to be question marks over whether Sunderland have that kind of money to spend on one player, particularly considering the greater spirit of prudence at the Stadium of Light these days.

There have to be even bigger question marks over whether Borini is worth that, albeit the fees on the domestic market have bordered on ludicrous this summer.

All this is before Borini’s own views have been taken into account. Sunderland have been concerned throughout the summer over whether the former Chelsea youngster would be willing to forego his second chance of making the grade on Merseyside.

Coupled with the comments from Borini’s agent earlier this week - when he declared the forward expects to stay at Liverpool - the situation does not look particularly hopeful for Sunderland.

Their chances will be improved closer to the transfer deadline.

By then, Rodgers may have changed his mind on the evidence of what he sees during pre-season, while Liverpool could well have added extra strikers to their ranks if more appealing options become available.

But while Sunderland are prepared to do business right up to and including deadline day, can they take a chance on waiting that long to land a key player?

The Black Cats may have to follow the example of their rivals.

Mike Ashley’s reluctance to open the cheque book has cost Newcastle league places and sparked anarchy on the terraces.

But the benefit of being uber-cautious in the transfer market has ensured that the Magpies have been able to sign their principle targets for a fraction of what they were originally quoted - a pattern which continued this week with the arrival of Siem de Jong.

That might be Sunderland’s best bet with Borini.

In January or next summer, Borini may have found himself confined to the fringiest of fringe roles at Anfield. His desire to leave would be that much higher, while his market value would plummet.

It’s a risk. There is always the possibility that Borini could shine on his Liverpool return.

But if the current situation continues, then that may be Sunderland’s best hope.

THE COST of signing British players has bordered on insanity so far this summer.

Hull have splashed out more than £15million to bring in Robert Snodgrass and Jake Livermore, while at the top end of the market, almost £60m spent on Luke Shaw and Adam Lallana by Manchester United and Liverpool respectively is mind-boggling.

The situation won’t change. Sunderland themselves have reaped the rewards from the domestic market (financially at least) by banking £40m from the sales of Darren Bent and Jordan Henderson.

All these astronomical fees demonstrate is that the most cost-effective way of getting British, is not to buy British. Players have to be reared and cultivated on academy soil.

Then - as Southampton will aim to show next season - if one departs for big money, there is another homegrown player on the conveyor belt ready to take the baton.