SUNDERLAND are prepared to play the waiting game in their pursuit of Fabio Borini, despite the forward’s agent reiterating that he is likely to remain at Liverpool.
But the Black Cats are facing the prospect of having to splash out more than £10million if they are to re-sign Borini, with Liverpool NOT looking to part company with the Italian, despite a flurry of transfer activity at Anfield.
Borini has been at the top of Sunderland’s hit-list throughout the summer after finishing as the club’s joint top scorer with 10 goals during last season’s loan spell.
Yet despite suggestions that Liverpool are prepared to offload Borini, the 23-year-old’s representative, Marco De Marchi, yesterday stressed that he doesn’t expect a move this summer and that currently looks to be the case.
The Echo understands that Liverpool want four strikers next season for a campaign which will face the added demands of the Champions League.
Borini, Daniel Sturridge, Rickie Lambert and Luis Suarez - albeit the latter’s future is open to scrutiny after his four-month FIFA ban - will form that quartet.
That situation is unlikely to be altered by yesterday’s capture of Adam Lallana or fellow attacking midfielder targets, Bayern Munich’s Xherdan Shaqiri and Benfica’s Lazar Markovic.
Liverpool are close to signing Belgium striker Divock Origi, but will loan him back to French club Lille for the season.
The Premier League runners-up will not sell Borini while the uncertainty over Suarez’s future continues, while he will be the only senior striker available for Liverpool’s pre-season tour of the USA which starts on July 20, with the other three frontmen given time off for their World Cup participation.
The only way Borini’s place in Brendan Rodgers’ plans can be altered is if a more appealing frontman becomes available or if Liverpool are tempted by an offer which is too good to turn down.
Crucially, it is understood that Liverpool would want to make a profit on the £10.5m they invested in Borini two years ago for them to consider selling the former Chelsea youngster.
But Sunderland accept they need to adopt a patient approach in their hopes of signing Borini after holding talks with Liverpool.
The club realise there is still plenty of time for the situation to change over the next months - particularly given what the uncertainty surrounding Suarez - after the transfer window only opened yesterday.
But the remarks from De Marchi reinforced the challenge Sunderland face in prising last season’s Young Player of the Year away from Anfield.
“Fabio goes back to Liverpool to stay there, as stated by the manager Rodgers a few weeks ago,” De Marchi told the Italian press.
“So far, Liverpool have not received any communication regarding his transfer.
“I would not be surprised if there were other clubs who want him, because I consider him a complete striker.
“But for the moment, all I can say with certainty is that Fabio has returned to Liverpool to stay.”