Fabio Borini has had a tumultuous time since returning to England last summer, but will eventually justify his Anfield switch.
The 22-year-old was snapped up by Brendan Rodgers on the back of his most productive season as a professional with AS Roma, having shown immense promise in bagging nine Serie A goals to largely carry a sluggish Giallorossi side.
Regardless of his exploits in the Italian capital, his £10.5 million price-tag was met with some scepticism by Liverpool supporters, wary of overspending following big-money moves for flops Stewart Downing and Andy Carroll, but the Reds boss remained keen on linking up with his former charge in the Chelsea youth system and at Swansea.
The Northern Irishman knew what Borini had to offer after witnessing his development as a teenager and overseeing his heroics in the Swans’ successful promotion campaign in the first five months of 2011, duly believing the youngster could play a major role in an Anfield renaissance.
But the Italy international’s first campaign at Liverpool was instead chequered by injury woes and inconsistency, seeing him net just twice in 20 appearances in all competitions to the disappointment of supporters.
His subsequent loan to Sunderland for the current term came as a result of his need for first team football, Rodgers pointing to Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez as roadblocks to his development, though with just five Premier League starts to his name since joining the Black Cats the temporary switch hasn’t been as fruitful as the Reds boss would’ve liked.
Yet still, two flashes of brilliance in another stop-start season for Borini provide enough reason to believe that given time he could well be a success in England.
Each of his goals have come at crucial times for Sunderland in a testament to his ability to be an impact player.
At the club’s darkest hour, coming off of six straight defeats and winless in the top flight, it was the Italian that came off of the bench to crush Newcastle with a stunning strike from distance and lift the Stadium of Light outfit to victory in a typically emotional Tyne-Wear derby on October 27.
And on Tuesday, it was Borini once more who entered the fray to net a last-gasp equaliser and provide the assist for Ki Sung-Yeung’s dramatic extra-time winner against former employers Chelsea, sending Sunderland to the semi-finals of the Capital One Cup and providing hope that silverware could still be on the horizon despite a dismal Premier League showing from the Black Cats to date.
Ever the hard worker, even when the 22-year-old hasn’t gotten his name on the scoresheet, he’s shown his qualities and chased the game with absolute intent to leave his mark on proceedings.
And through this mantra of industriousness Borini explained his trademark goal celebration upon joining Liverpool in July 2012.
"In Italy, we say when one person wants something so much it is like he has a knife between his teeth," he told the Mirror. “Like a warrior who never gives up.”
It is exactly this type of individual that Rodgers will need at Anfield if he is to restore past glories, as he’s expressed the desire to do so.
The road to the future has been marked with difficulties since Borini made his return to the Premier League last summer, but the signs are certainly there that days of success are yet to come, as evidenced by his attitude on the pitch and willingness to persist even in trying times.
Gus Poyet may be inclined to give the young striker a greater look in at the first team following his latest heroics for Sunderland, something that would certainly please Rodgers and give him further opportunities to express himself before trying his hand on Merseyside once more.
For Borini the talent is there, as is the will to vanquish doubters. Now is the time for him to sustain success before he heads back to Anfield to make good on the £10.5 worth of faith Rodgers put forward to see him in a Liverpool shirt.
image: © incendio