At last. After 13 months of the most mind-numbing transfer saga, finally Fabio Borini is a Sunderland player.
There’s some closure to a pursuit which had faced a tiresome cycle of ‘yes / no / maybe’ speed-bumps since a £14million bid was lodged with Liverpool in July 2014.
Lee Congerton can forgive himself for puffing out his cheeks in relief that his mind will never again have to consider how to prise Borini away from Anfield
Borini is back in red and white, and everything is right with the world.
Perversely, for a transfer which had dragged on for so long, the deal was done in quick-fire fashion in the end - only 24 hours or so elapsing between Sunderland lodging a formal bid on Sunday with Liverpool, and Borini being pictured with scarf in hand outside the Academy of Light.
Lee Congerton can forgive himself for puffing out his cheeks in relief that his mind will never again have to consider how to prise Borini away from Anfield.
My how Sunderland fans have had to be patient though.
At the end of Borini’s season-long loan stint in May 2014, it always looked like it would be a long shot for the Italian to remain on Wearside after he had told his team-mates that he wanted to fight for his place at Liverpool.
Congerton and Gus Poyet hoped that when Sunderland lodged their whopping £14m offer, it would turn Borini’s head and show him just how much he was wanted at the Stadium of Light.
But Borini was clear with Congerton from the off. He wanted to go back to Liverpool and play Champions League football.
Now, perhaps Borini needed someone in his ear at that stage to say that his career would be better-served playing regularly and being a hero at Sunderland, rather than being limited to a bit-part role at Anfield.
It’s extremely telling that the 24-year-old has subsequently changed his agent.
But while Congerton appreciated Borini’s sincerity, Poyet refused to take no for an answer and continued to direct the news agenda throughout the summer.
Poyet - wrongly as it turned out - believed Borini would have a change of heart when he realised his place in Brendan Rodgers’ pecking order.
Yet the Italian was determined to make his mark and even a Get Out of Jail Free chance to go to QPR on deadline day was scuppered by his wage demands.
Predictably, Borini’s contribution at Liverpool last season was limited to just four Premier League starts. It wasn’t until Rodgers made it crystal clear this summer by telling the ex-Chelsea man, Mario Balotelli and Jose Enrique to train by themselves that he accepted the game was up.
Even then though, Sunderland weren’t enthused about the prospect of getting themselves back involved in a Borini saga.
After the sale of Connor Wickham at the start of August, Borini was not among the striking options Sunderland were even considering. He was nowhere near the shortlist.
But as the striking options Sunderland were considering became dead-ends, coupled with the shoulder injury sustained by Adam Johnson, Congerton and Dick Advocaat decided to have another look at Borini and made an enquiry with Liverpool.
Borini was tempted, yet with Inter Milan and Fiorentina also interested, he decided to keep his options open until the final throws of the transfer window.
Neither were Sunderland lusting after Borini as the ‘one and only’ target either, particularly as they were operating with a limited budget (which has clearly been bolstered out of Ellis Short’s pocket for the £7.75m initial payment to Liverpool).
As late as last Friday, Advocaat is understood to have held reservations over signing Borini in the same way as he did with Jonathan de Guzman, who had ummed and awed for a fortnight over joining Sunderland.
Advocaat did not want to put all his chips on Borini and then end up with nobody. He was also confident that Sunderland were closing in on a targetman on the Continent.
Borini was in-effect, the back-up option both for Sunderland and the player himself.
But over the weekend, particularly as Borussia Dortmund’s Adrian Ramos appeared to be another dead-end, the picture changed and Sunderland made a fresh approach to Liverpool on Sunday.
Despite that background, there shouldn’t be a single doubt over Borini’s commitment.
The striker is an uber-professional. On a daily basis, he was the last player off the Sunderland training ground and regularly uses a sports scientist to fine-tune his craft.
Look at the last year of Borini’s life on an objective basis too.
Could you blame him for wanting to play Champions League football?
Could you blame him for waiting to see if Inter Milan came calling? Considering Sunderland’s current troubles, not really.
The only concern over signing Borini is where he plays, as he’s hardly the physical targetman that Advocaat had been looking for in the transfer market to complete his front three.
If Borini was operating in one of the wide berths in Advocaat’s 4-3-3, then it would make complete sense.
But unless there is suddenly an extra wad of Short’s cash on deadline day to invest in a targetmen (which is unlikely) then Borini is going to be playing in his favoured central striker role after Advocaat has already said that he doesn’t want to use Jermain Defoe there.
Borini is more at home with his back to goal than Defoe and has proved he can play the lone striker role effectively - he showed as much in the League Cup final. Yet Sunderland will have to keep the ball on the deck far more than perhaps Advocaat had planned.
Advocaat has almost a fortnight to ponder that conundrum though before Sunderland return to Premier League action.
For the moment, Wearside can breathe a sigh of relief that Borini is back.