We lost out on a few Plan A’s in the transfer window and Plan B seems to be a directionless flap scouring the loan market for the proverbial ‘stop-gap’ resolution.
The old ‘the roof is leaking so stick a bucket under it’ approach. This seems to have been the defining solution for major squad shortfalls in our transfer tactics for a little while now, including this revolution…ish…summer. Stephane Sessegnon seems certain to be leaving and his ‘replacement’ is a loan deal in Fabio Borini, who has had little success in England since his big money transfer from Liverpool.
Born in the small Italian village of Bentivoglio, Borini was raised like his father as an avid Bologna fan – the club he spent his youngest footballing years with. He has never been the most prolific of forwards, but looking through his history you get the sense there must be something about him. He has always been snapped up by high stature clubs.
Starting with Chelsea, after an impressive loan spell with Swansea City, Borini was snapped up under their noses by Italian side Parma before almost immediately moving to big boys Roma. During his spell at the Stadio Olimpico he earned his first and so far only international cap against the USA. He was Brendan Rodgers’ first signing as Liverpool manager. In total, Borini has cost football clubs in excess of €20 million and is still at the tender age of 22.
Not that you will have had the chance to see it much, but he has a very odd goal celebration. Basically, he eats his hand as he wheels away in celebration. Not as weird as it may sound or even look as the man himself explains;
“The celebration is something I did with my friends when I was in the youth team at Chelsea. In Italy, we say when one person wants something so much it is like he has a knife between his teeth – like a warrior who never gives up. After that, I kept doing it. I did it the first time I scored at Swansea and everyone liked it. It was the same at Roma.”
Surely he can’t be bad then? Well, we took the opportunity to ask Adam from top Liverpool blog Anfield Asylum who was kind enough to lend us his time despite the Reds’ busy transfer deadline day!
WAW: We haven't seen too much of Fabio Borini since he arrived to the Premier League - can you tell us a little more about the type of forward he is?
Adam: Well...we haven't seen too much of him either (only 13 league appearances)! He is an absolute hard worker when he is on the pitch, but he doesn't seem to fit a certain mould in my eyes. He isn't overly flashy, but has decent foot skills. He isn't exactly a poacher, but he does manage to get himself into decent positions much of the time. What he does is works his socks off from first whistle to the end. There is no doubt he always gave 100% on the pitch even when it wasn't working for him.
WAW: What are his strengths and weaknesses?
Adam: His main strength was his work rate, kind of like a lesser Dirk Kuyt. He genuinely cared and you could see the frustration all over his face when things didn't work out. However, that frustration was all too common as his finishing was abhorrent. He missed a number of sitters and his inability to finish off goals really left him on the fringes after he came back from injuries. He only had 20 total appearances for us last year, but 6 of those were in Europa League. Much of these were before Daniel Sturridge was brought in at which point he was no longer on the fringes, but more in the rough. How much of his falling from favour was due to his injuries (he broke his foot in October and then dislocated his shoulder in February, a month after coming back from the foot) will always be unknown. However, his only Premier League goal came in the 6-0 thrashing of Newcastle well after the game was put to bed and after he came back from his shoulder injury.
WAW: I don't think I am being unkind in saying he hasn't exactly earned himself a good reputation so far in England - is the general disappointment a fair reflection on him do you think?
Adam: This is a tough one from the body of work. The bottom line is he missed a ton of relatively easy goals and really did fail to impress. Or even beyond that, he failed to hit the target and work the keeper when in good positions far too often which left Liverpool fans very frustrated. As I alluded to earlier, if we were frustrated he was ten times more frustrated and you could see it in his play and his face. This turned out to be a sort of circular logic type deal where he was frustrated that he couldn't score and his frustration was interfering with his ability to score. He has to tools to be successful, but it really lacking in confidence right now. I would generally say though that he has been a disappointment. He seemed to be coming along before he broke his foot and really has struggled ever since.
WAW: He is still a young player, do you see this loan deal as the beginning of the end for him with Liverpool or a chance for him to develop?
Adam: With the attacking core Liverpool have signed, plus bringing in Moses on loan now it is hard to see him making his way back into the line-up. He was a familiar face to Rodgers where both were together both at Chelsea and Swansea. This is why I think he initially brought him in (I think he was Rodgers' first signing if I remember right). He knew Borini would understand Rodgers' system and it would ease the transition for the rest of the team. He is young, but I'm just not seeing him forcing a way back into the line-up. This is likely a move to put him in the storefront window for next summer.
WAW: Do you think this is a good signing by Sunderland?
Adam: I do think Di Canio might be able to get a bit more out of him. With both having played similar positions and both being Italian it should be a huge help to ease his transition. He is very much different to Altidore and I definitely could see them feeding off each other with Borini making the runs to open up a bit of space for Jozy. Either way I'll be pulling for him. He has been a top professional at Liverpool even when things weren't going well. He never complained publicly or any of that.
We have lost one of our bigger names in the dressing room and whether or not Sessegnon was consistent enough to warrant his shirt – there is no doubt that his departure will leave a sizeable gap in our squad. How would Borini temporarily fill the gap? As far as being a striker goes, it is apparent that Borini has not quite figured out his niche. This is forgivable, at a young age, but points more to his versatility rather than his potential as a high impact player like Sess. The transfer does not really feel like a direct replacement for the West Brom bound love child of Messi and Pele. More so, it fits the bill of a kneejerk reaction to the gash performance against Crystal Palace – with Di Canio potentially realising whilst we have numbers up top, we don’t really have effective options other than Jozy Altidore and Steven Fletcher.
I am sceptical but open-minded about this transfer, my scepticism is more so about the motives behind it rather than the player himself. I am not convinced he will play an enormous part in our season other than bench appearances unless Jozy or Fletch succumb to injury.
Our initial business was done so early – how have we let ourselves get into the situation where we have to whack in random deadline day loan deals? At least our squad seems a reasonable side at the moment…