When Fabio Borini turned Sunderland down last summer – after Gus Poyet and Lee Congerton had worked tirelessly to get his signature – I thought that was the last we’d see of him in a red and white shirt.
Fans didn’t like what they felt was a player leading the club on, when all that time and effort spent on him could have been put to better use.
The fact that he was never more than a fringe player at Anfield – rarely starting when he could have had a starring role on Wearside – also brought into question what his motivation was, with many coming to the conclusion that it was financial, although he claims it was always about Champions League football.
Yet 12 months on, Borini is back and if he can make the impact he did in his first spell, he’ll quickly have the fans on his side.
Football is a fickle business, you can go from hero to villain and back again in a remarkably short space of time, and the one thing that matters above everything else is delivering on the pitch.
In Borini’s loan spell, I never saw him ever give less than 100 per cent, and in an era when some loan players think they’re doing you a huge favour, his attitude and commitment to the team was always spot-on and he also had a good record in derbies which is always a plus point.
What also impressed me was how in his first few months at Sunderland, he struggled to make the starting line-up, yet worked and trained even harder to wait for his chance. When it came, he grabbed it and was a major part of the Great Escape.
Borini will bring energy to the team and that can be infectious to the rest of the players.
He’s got great determination and desire, and if successful he’ll have a good re-sale value as he’s still young. That’s an important factor these days.
The Borini signing has been a long-running saga, which has rumbled on for well over 12 months, but in Sunderland’s position, it’s got to work out and overall I think the pluses outweigh the minuses in this deal.