Fabio Borini has featured in 11 competitive games for Liverpool so far this season, playing over 730 minutes while contributing a goal and an assist. That seems a lot more efficient than the value for money that Liverpool have reaped out of Andy Carroll, Stewart Downing and Jordan Henderson. However, the Reds have ambitions to do better than last season, and such frivolous comparisons shall not be cited, as they do not serve any purpose.
The Italian, who was bought for a little in excess of 10 million pounds from AS Roma, has shown glimpses of his talent in his short period in England. Even though he has not fired so far to the extent he was expected to—by Brendan Rodgers, anyway, who raved about “the fans loving him” before signing him—he does have the cushion of pointing to his limited appearances.
Even while he is out injured at the moment, a swift judgement regarding his effectiveness needs to be passed within the next two months before the January window opens. Either way, with or without Borini, Liverpool still need reinforcing in the striking department unless Samed Yesil and Adam Morgan can prove otherwise.
January is still some time away, and the options can surely be discussed later. For the time being, let us analyse why Borini has not been able to light up Anfield as yet.
To start with, Rodgers has been trying to implement a new system and a new way of playing. The whole team is adapting to that, and with Borini coming only this season, he is bound to still be attempting to tune to his teammates. He will not reach the level of someone such as Luis Suarez anytime soon.
People will point to Joe Allen and his seamless transition into the role and a new team. However, we should not forget that Swansea played the same style, and Allen played the same role there. It is also easier for Allen to adapt to the role that Lucas Leiva plays (while he is injured) because of the similarity there—only he does not do the job as well as Lucas.
Will Borini justify his value this season itself?
On top of that, Borini’s position involves a lot more coordination and a need to jell with more members on the field during play. So it is only natural that it will take time for the youngster to show his true calibre, and an injury surely does not help that.
Then there is a very poor start to the season, which saw even Steven Gerrard have a few poor games and has not helped confidence and. It is not easy for a new player to start performing and take things by the scruff of the neck in one of the tougher leagues of the world, especially when he is just 21 and not in the elite group of the Ronaldos and the Messis.
What Borini has shown, though, is good potential. He has the mentality and ability of a striker that Liverpool could use, with a lack of cutting edge prevalent over the last 15 months or so. He is clever to make good runs and hits the target more often. His first touch at times is definitely a letdown, but at 21, he can only improve.
I have stressed before that the lack of inventive play is not only because of a dearth of creativity in the midfield but also because of insipid attackers not making runs or finding space. Borini certainly addresses this concern, and even Raheem Sterling seems to have taken a leaf out of his book to score against Reading yesterday.
Thirdly, he is still adapting to the physical nature of the league. Certain knocks that the Italian has suffered, even though they did not seem totally innocuous, were some that you come to expect in a physically demanding environment. Yet it seemed that Borini was in excruciating pain. While he was not feigning injury, he was also not making a case for his consideration into the team for games such as those against Stoke.
On top of that, I do not think that Rodgers has done him any favors by playing him out wide on most occasions. With Suarez failing to hit the target time and time again, and Borini doing the opposite, it should not take rocket science for the gaffer to have them interchange their positions.
The Italian may have pace, but beating players is just not his game. Liverpool have Suarez and Sterling for that. Borini should remain central in the front three and try turning in shots such as that from Gerrard against Reading or Skrtel’s against Stoke. Of course, he was injured for these games, but it has become all too obvious that unless Suarez starts taking his long list of chances, Liverpool need a poacher—and soon.
Finally, most Liverpool fans will be wondering if he is average. The scale of optimism here lies in watching Udinese and applauding the striker who will, I am betting, score their next goal. You would not be able to tell that Antonio Di Natale was 35 if you were seeing him play for the first time. Considering that example, I believe any player who is 21 cannot be even thought of being ridiculously condemned.
With age on his side and a solution to the above mentioned factors, I am sure Borini will be notching up goals soon. He is natural at hitting the target and receiving balls in areas that let him get off shots on goal.