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Why Parting with Fabio Borini Is Good for Liverpool

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Why Parting with Fabio Borini Is Good for Liverpool
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Keeping his eye on the ball: Borini in action for Liverpool during preseason.

Liverpool striker Fabio Borini joined Sunderland on a season-long loan on transfer deadline day, and the Reds’ decision to allow the Italian to move to the Stadium of Light was a smart move.

Borini was Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers’ first signing last July after he succeeded Kenny Dalglish in the Anfield dugout, with the 22-year-old arriving from Serie A giants AS Roma on a five-year deal for a fee of £10.5 million.

The Northern Irishman was a huge admirer of Borini’s from the brief time that the pair had spent working together at Swansea City in the Championship between March and May 2011, with Rodgers immediately lavishing huge praise on the Italy international after his arrival on Merseyside.

“Fabio’s a big talent, 21 years of age, he scores goals, and his passion, focus and concentration is a very important part of his game,” the Reds boss was quoted as saying by Mirror Football.

"I think the supporters will love him. He's a multi-functional player who can play in a number of positions and someone I believe has got great growth.

"I'd anticipate that over the next two or three years he'll really progress and I'm sure do very well for Liverpool.

"He is arguably the best physical player I've worked with in terms of his pace, power and fitness.

"Mentally, he's very strong. We've got a player who is on the up and someone who I think Liverpool will benefit from."

However, it is fair to say that Borini’s debut campaign at Liverpool did not go according to plan, despite him scoring in just his second match for the Reds and on his first appearance at Anfield, in a UEFA Europa League third qualifying round tie against FC Gomel.

After that promising beginning though, a combination of not being played in his more favoured central striking role, followed by a lack of goals and a loss of confidence, plus a succession of injuries, all combined to badly derail Borini’s season at Anfield.

The forward really did have no luck when it came to the last of those factors, with first a broken foot sustained against Manchester United in the Premier League in October 2012, keeping Borini out of action for three months.

But to make matters worse, when the Italian did finally recover from that setback, he soon found himself back on the treatment table once again after suffering a dislocated shoulder after a freak collision with Swansea’s Kyle Bartley in a top-flight clash at Anfield in February 2013.

And while Borini showed great courage and determination to battle back to full fitness way ahead of schedule to be able to feature in the climax to last season, with the front man being rewarded for his efforts by scoring his first Premier League goal for the Reds in a 6-0 rout of Newcastle United last April, it was not a campaign to remember for the new man.

Not only that, but despite Borini’s welcome strike at St James’ Park, the player had by now also fallen behind recent acquisition Daniel Sturridge in the pecking order of strikers at Anfield, making his return to the Liverpool starting XI just that bit harder after a season that ended with just two goals in total in his 20 matches in all competitions for his new team.

However, Borini is very much a forward who requires the confidence in front of goal that inevitably comes from playing regularly, something he was clearly deprived of on Merseyside in his first campaign with the Reds.

Yet look at his goalscoring record in his one and only campaign at the Stadio Olimpico, where Borini netted 10 goals in 26 matches for the Giallorossi against far more miserly Italian defences. Or look equally at his time while representing the Italy Under-21s, for which he managed to score six goals in 18 internationals between 2009 and 2013.

Rodgers knew this about his striker only too well, leaving the manager with a slight conundrum at the start of this season as to how to best get that confidence back into Borini’s game now that he was fully fit once again.

Rodgers clearly rates Borini, otherwise he would not have shelled out a huge proportion of his whole summer transfer budget last year to bring him to Anfield, but going into the new campaign, the Liverpool coach also now had far more attacking weapons at his disposal.

However, that dilemma has been rectified by sending Borini to the North East in order to get regular game time under Black Cats boss Paolo Di Canio, a factor Rodgers alluded to himself, via Sky Sports, when announcing the forward’s departure: "It's just to get games.

"He had a stop-start season last year with his injuries and I just felt this year he needed to go and play football.

"With Daniel Sturridge, Luis Suarez, Iago Aspas and some of the other attacking players, that might have been limited.

"I have a real belief in Fabio - he is a talent and we've seen that on occasions, but he needs to be playing regularly to demonstrate that talent."

Rodgers is right, as it is hard to see the Italian getting much time on the pitch had he stayed on Merseyside (he has yet to feature at all so far this season), especially after the manager signalled his intentions to play full-strength sides in both domestic cup competitions going forward, which may have otherwise been one possible avenue back into the starting lineup for Borini.

Meanwhile at the Stadium of Light, Borini is virtually guaranteed regular playing time up front for a Sunderland side currently struggling badly for goals, and not only that, but the striker will also get the chance to work with former Italy international and AC Milan forward Di Canio on Wearside, as Rodgers touched on.

We had a host of clubs wanting to take him, but with Sunderland having the Italian connection there and being a big club where he can go and play, I'm sure he'll get the chance to shine and we'll look closely at his development this year.

So in many ways, it really is a win-win situation for both Liverpool and Borini himself, as instead of languishing on the bench on Merseyside all season, the Italian can instead play regularly as a striker in the Premier League and come back to Anfield a better, more confident and experienced player as a result.

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