He remains a comparatively unknown quantity to Liverpool fans but Fabio Borini is still attracting interest at home. What will next season bring for the young Italian?
As Fabio Borini was taken from the field in terrible discomfort last Sunday, I felt utterly deflated and not a little annoyed. Clearly, I felt for the young Italian but frustration meant I could not prevent an unkind question entering my mind. "What the hell," I wondered, "is this guy and will he make it at this club?"
Like most Liverpool fans I was excited, if a touch wary, when Borini arrived from Roma for 10.7 million pounds last summer. His early outings on our sponsor-pleasing, pre-season jolly-up were encouraging enough and, odd as this may sound, he looked like a footballer. He was graceful, lithe, fleet-of-foot and appeared to have considerable technique. He even debuted a nifty goal celebration.
As the season began, Borini found himself a key figure in Rodgers' line-ups. His movement off-the-ball was intelligent, he scored a good goal at Anfield against FC Gomel and he was quite unfortunate not to register one or two more in those early games. Then, the striker suffered a broken foot and was eventually ruled-out for 3 months.
Fans had enthused about his runs and link-up play but lamented his lack of goals. Now, it would be a quarter of a year until they could see him again. We wondered what exactly we had in Fabio Borini and the question would have to remain unanswered until his comeback on the 9th of January, versus Manchester United, when he replaced Raheem Sterling as a second half substitute.
With Daniel Sturridge's arrival and the simply marvellous form of Luis Suarez, playing time was limited for Borini in the weeks that followed. Last Sunday, our number 29 appeared as substitute when Liverpool were cruising past Swansea at Anfield but disaster struck again. One was uncomfortably reminded of the fragility of the last Fabio to don the Liverbird, as the luckless forward was stretchered-off.
So the questions and uncertainties remain for us fans and perhaps even for Brendan Rodgers. What exactly is Fabio Borini? Will he play on the right or left of a three? Will he play through the centre as the focal point of the attack? Will he play as part of a front-two? Or will he now be reduced to biding his time as cover for Suarez and Sturridge?
With Fiorentina's sporting director Daniele Prade telling Radio Toscana that they "like Fabio Borini but it is unlikely that Liverpool will want to let him go," our thoughts are even more sharply focused on the future of the young striker. There are, then, too many questions left unanswered about Borini as a Liverpool player. However, all of us will wish him a speedy recovery and most will hope that he remains at the club and answers those questions positively, in Red, as next season begins.