Fabio Borini is at the center of a transfer battle thanks to concrete interest from Liverpool, but Roma’s chief concern remains neglected, argues Ross Catanzariti.
Fabio Borini. Formerly of Chelsea reserves, Swansea, Parma and Roma and certainly not the sort of name that usually sends the football media into a frenzy. That’s exactly what happened this week, however, after the English press reported on Monday that the Italian striker is a serious transfer target for Liverpool.
The Borini-Liverpool link is admittedly easy one to make. The Merseyside club’s newly appointed boss, Brendan Rodgers, managed Borini in his stint on loan at Swansea. Formerly owned by Chelsea, Borini has in fact spent most of his short career in England. The 21 year old was a surprise last summer acquisition by Roma, who took out a co-ownership deal with Parma and sent him to Italy’s capital under the guidance of former Barcelona B boss Luis Enrique.
Most observers expected Borini to see little first team action at Roma but fast forward 12 months and the situation is remarkably different. Due to a combination of injuries, suspensions and lackluster performances, Borini made the most of his chances. He scored nine league goals last season, second only to Pablo Daniel Osvaldo (11), won his first Italian international cap and was selected in Cesare Prandelli’s EURO 2012 squad, albeit not managing to play a single minute in the tournament.
A little over two weeks ago, Roma purchased Borini outright by paying Parma €5.3 million euros for half of his contract. This fact was obviously not researched particularly well by English publication The Telegraph, who incorrectly reported this week that Borini was still co-owned with Parma. These figures are particularly important given Roma have paid a total, including loan and initial co-ownership fees, of €8.85 million for Borini.
It is therefore difficult to see Roma selling Borini without the caveat of a significant profit, ruling out the frankly ridiculous, widely reported figure of £8 million. Roma’s sporting director Walter Sabatini has since confirmed Liverpool’s interest is real and the club is evaluating the situation. The Italian press believe the club could decide to sell the forward if the offer was over €15 million.
Borini’s rise to prominence is a great story. His work ethic is exceptional and from all reports he is a great trainer. He’s not exactly a clinical finisher, but nine goals in a tough environment in Rome is certainly nothing to sniff at, nor is the fact his movement creates plenty of issues for opposition defenders. His pressing, too, is invaluable and he is quite strong despite not possessing a huge frame. A goal against Inter in a 4-0 drubbing last season, where he held off Brazilian centre back Lucio, is testament to that.
Lost in the uproar over Borini potentially leaving Roma, however, is the fact that the capital club is now bossed by Zdenek Zeman. The Czech coach is a disciple of a 4-3-3 system that utilses two skillful, wide forwards. His teams are known for their relentless attack, where you’ll often find eight players pushing up in and around the penalty area. Roma’s other forwards, namely Osvaldo, Erik Lamela and former Barcelona wonderkid Bojan, are widely expected to fill these wide roles better than Borini could.
Rather than lament the potential loss of an admittedly promising talent in Borini, Roma fans should hope the club manages the situation wisely. The funds from any potential sale of Borini could and should be used to shore up Roma’s defense, which remains the weakest part of the side. The acquisition of Brazilian centre back Leandro Castan, fresh from winning the Copa Libertadores with Corinthians, is a good start, but Roma still need further defensive reinforcements if the club wants to compete with Juventus, Milan and Inter in the battle for next season’s scudetto.
Amid all the hype surrounding Borini’s potential departure, a loss in the attacking department could pave the way for an improvement in defense. Improvement that is desperately needed, given Roma are currently heading into the season with first choice fullbacks of Aleandro Rosi and little known 20 year old Brazilian Dodó. A brief thought about Roma’s dire defensive situation would be a wise one before considering an uproar over Fabio Borini.