Striker Fabio Borini Still Has Liverpool Future but Rodgers Needs More Options

Karl Matchett@@karlmatchettFeatured ColumnistMarch 25, 2014

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 02:  Vincent Kompany of Manchester City tackles Fabio Borini of Sunderland during the Capital One Cup Final between Manchester City and Sunderland at Wembley Stadium on March 2, 2014 in London, England.  (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)
Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has spoken this week about the future of the Reds' on-loan forward Fabio Borini, ahead of the match at home to Sunderland in the Premier League.

Italian striker Borini has been spending the 2013-14 campaign with the Black Cats, initially signed by Paolo Di Canio before really turning in some impressive performances under current boss Gus Poyet.

Rodgers claims that Borini, as per, has gotten the game time he needed to improve and could come back to Liverpool a better player, though he stopped short of saying he would definitely be a part of the squad going forward. The manager said:

Fabio went out to get games, go on loan and play more regularly than he was playing here; he has showed with some of the goals he has scored—particularly against the big teams—the qualities that he has. The goal he scored in the Capital One Cup final was a fantastic goal.

Fabio will come back in the summer and he will be better for having played that season. And we'll review it from there. He has played as a striker, played wide and played in pressure games, and he has done very well. Hopefully, in the future, Liverpool will benefit from it.

A Chance to Shine

The Liverpool boss has proven more than adept at getting the best out of the attacking sections of his side, so there will be few fans worried about his judgement on Borini.

Come the summer, he will very likely have the chance to prove himself worthy of a place in the squad with preseason training and matches, presumably covering for Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez who will both be at the World Cup.

CARDIFF, WALES - MARCH 22:  Daniel Sturridge of Liverpool celebrates with team mate Luis Suarez after scoring his team's fifth goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Cardiff City and Liverpool at Cardiff City Stadium on March 22, 2014 in Ca
Ben Hoskins/Getty Images

While those two have extended time off—if they indeed are granted more rest, as is normal—Borini will need to show the qualities that made him a Reds target to begin with.

He won't get a place in the Liverpool team by merely being good, though.

This Reds attack is the best in the league, mixing technique with pace and a clinical edge.

Playing in a relatively poor Sunderland side, it's no great surprise that Borini hasn't managed more than six goals in all competitions this season—though he's been one of their best performers over the past couple of months, starting regularly both centrally and in wider attacking roles.

Aspas vs. Borini

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - AUGUST 17:  Iago Aspas of Liverpool in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Stoke City at Anfield on August 17, 2013 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Liverpool's current striker cover for the preferred pairing is Iago Aspas.

The Spaniard had a good preseason but has failed to score in the Premier League, starting well enough but soon falling out of favour. His only goal this season came in the FA Cup against Oldham Athletic, and he has not featured in Liverpool's last 10 league games for longer than six minutes at a time.

Given the choice of the current No. 9 or last season's two-goals-in-20 man, Liverpool supporters generally appear to favour the Italian over the Spaniard.

@LiverpoolWord Fabio Borini. It really isn't a contest. Aspas will go to Swansea or back to Spain IMO.

— Michael Fitzgerald (@BornOffside9) March 25, 2014

It could well be that Rodgers decides both have something to offer next term...but competing on four fronts and wanting to be challenging for honours, Liverpool will likely need another proven attacker instead of at least one of them.

Summer Signings

Regardless of Borini's return, Liverpool will almost certainly want to add one Champions League-quality attacker to their squad.

NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND - APRIL 27:  Fabio Borini of Liverpool celebrates scoring the fifth Liverpool goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Newcastle United and Liverpool at St James' Park on April 27, 2013 in Newcastle upon Tyne, Eng
Gareth Copley/Getty Images

There is also the potential matter of other loan returns, including Suso and Jordon Ibe, who could impact upon Borini's game time in the wide areas of attack—though playing a diamond midfield, with two central strikers, should considerably up the possibility of the Italian featuring in his preferred role.

All told, Borini still has a fair bit of work to do to assure himself of being a part of Liverpool's improving side going forward—but the year out on loan at Sunderland has certainly improved his confidence and consistency, judging by recent performances.

Rodgers is right in one regard—that this will ultimately benefit Liverpool. The summer transfer window will dictate whether that is in terms of Borini's ability on the pitch or his value in the market.


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