OSLO, NORWAY - Wednesday, August 7, 2013: Liverpool's Fabio Borini looks dejected after missing a chance against Valerenga during a preseason friendly match at the Ullevaal Stadion. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Merseyside or Wearside for Fabio Borini’s future?

Italian forward Fabio Borini has enjoyed a successful season on loan at Sunderland, but does his future lie on Merseyside or Wearside?

BANGKOK, THAILAND - Sunday, July 28, 2013: Liverpool's Fabio Borini in action against Thailand XI during a preseason friendly match at the Rajamangala National Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

By Henry Jackson

It’s fair to say that the Italian’s first season at Liverpool was a disappointing one. The 22-year-old joined with a reputation as a clinical finisher who could play anywhere across a front three, but he struggled to find form in an injury plagued campaign.

[pull_quote_left]Fabio went out to get games, go on loan and play more regularly than he was playing here – Rodgers[/pull_quote_left]

The former Chelsea player found the net just twice in 20 appearances, and offered the Reds very little in terms of quality and substance. Brendan Rodgers, who had Borini with him during a successful spell at Swansea, didn’t see him as part of his plans for the current campaign and allowed him to join Sunderland on a season long loan.

Although still not prolific for the Black Cats – admittedly scoring less in a struggling team is understandable – Borini has impressed hugely at times, becoming something of a fans favourite at the Stadium of Light.

Among his six goals for the club have been a stunning late winner in the Tyne-Wear derby, a crucial penalty in Sunderland‘s Capital One Cup semi-final win over Manchester United and a terrific finish in the subsequent final against Manchester City.

Sunderland boss Gus Poyet has signalled their intentions to make the more permanent: “As a manager when you have a player on loan and you know him very well he’s the best option to buy. It’s out of our hands but I can tell you that we like him (Fabio) a lot and we will try.”

Once Borini’s loan ends this summer, Rodgers has an important decision to make; does he stick with him or get rid of him for good?

While the one-time capped Italy international is not of the same quality of any of Liverpool’s current starting attackers, he could certainly prove to be an invaluable squad player for next season. He would offer more than Iago Aspas and Victor Moses, that’s for sure.

With Liverpool looking highly likely to be plying their trade in the Champions League in 2014/15, as well as the usual domestic cup competitions, Rodgers needs a big squad at his disposal. The Italian could definitely play a key role in that respect, and the Reds boss seems impressed by his progress at Sunderland:

“He has gone away to get experience of playing. Fabio will come back in the summer and he will be better for having played that season. And we’ll review it from there.”

European Football - UEFA Europa League - Group A - Liverpool FC v Udinese Calcio

It’s important to stress that Borini is still young – only a year older than Philippe Coutinho – and has plenty of time to improve his game under Rodgers; a manager who thrives on getting the very best out of young players.

This is a player who scored in both the semis and final of the Under-21 European Championships for Italy last summer. He has pedigree.

The flip side of that argument is that Liverpool should be aiming higher than someone of Borini’s quality, such are the club’s ambitions these days. Some would argue that Sunderland is the sort of level he should always be playing at, rather than a top four club. The real acid test of that will be next season, assuming he stays.

However, it’s difficult to persuade a “big name” forward to come to Anfield to play second fiddle to Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge.

Whatever the future holds for Fabio Borini, there can be doubting he has done his chances of remaining at Liverpool next season no harm whatsoever. Given his performances in big games this season, it’s lucky he is ineligible to play in tomorrow’s crucial clash at Anfield.

Would you keep Borini next season? Or is he not good enough?

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