Amidst all of the praise directed at Luis Suarez and the excitement at the arrival of Daniel Sturridge, there is a forgotten man amongst the Liverpool strike force.
It hasn’t helped when, after struggling to adapt upon his arrival from Roma, the Italian international youngster Fabio Borini broke his foot when training with the Italian under-21 side. Just a few short weeks after his return, Borini then dislocated a shoulder and ended his campaign before it ever got going.
It was a far cry from early August, when Borini struck his first and so far only goal for the Reds in the Europa League qualifying victory over the Belarusian side FC Gomel at Anfield. It was the Italian’s home debut, and much was expected of him.
Reds fans weren’t exactly looking at him as the finished article, or the type of player who could immediately slot into the team and provide the perfect goalscoring foil for Suarez, but Borini’s previous unions with new boss Brendan Rodgers at Chelsea youth levels and then in the first team at Swansea at least indicated that excitement wasn’t too hard to muster. He was going to be a valuable addition.
Roma had seemed reluctant to let the 21-year-old―who has one cap for the senior national team and was part of the squad which reached the final of Euro 2012―leave in the summer, and given that the Reds were suddenly looking incredibly thin on the ground in the attacking department it was a welcome move.
Craig Bellamy and Dirk Kuyt had left, whilst Andy Carroll was soon to follow, and so Borini’s ability to play all across the forward line was supposed to prove vital.
In the event, the Reds’ failure to bring their much-discussed pursuit of Clint Dempsey to a successful conclusion at the closure of the summer transfer window saw pressure heaped on Borini. Now he was required to step up and score the goals that the team were lacking from other departments. His body proved not to be up to the task.
Now forced to his familiar spot on the sidelines for the remainder of the campaign, Borini has an opportunity to watch and learn.
He is sure to be linked with a move away from the Reds (Daily Mail) as another summer of upheaval approaches, but with Suarez shining and Sturridge taking to life at his new club like a duck does to water, Borini should be able to observe the pair and learn what it will take to provide better backup to them next season.
His early experiences in England―and Wales―make his much more than just the usual story of a young foreign player struggling to adapt, and if Borini can approach a more consistent level of fitness next season then his is a Liverpool career which can still be salvaged. It is far too early to write him off yet.
One of the biggest differences between Liverpool and the teams they are now chasing at the top of the game over recent times has been their relative dearth of striking options. When a team such as Manchester United are chasing a goal they have the ability to bring on a Javier Hernandez or a Danny Welbeck. When in the same position, Liverpool have been relying on unproven youngsters.
There is still much about Borini which remains unproven of course―not least his ability to stand up to the rigours of a full campaign―but the forward could provide welcome backup to Suarez and Sturridge next season. With the likes of Philippe Coutinho, Raheem Sterling and Stewart Downing around too, then a team which has often struggled for goals may have the potential to fire many in 2013/14, just as they have been doing in recent weeks.
Borini has missed out on those goal-filled afternoons and evenings, but hopefully they’ve inspired him towards thinking about just what he could achieve next season.
The Italian still has a future at Liverpool.
He doesn’t have to be the forgotten man forever.