Salut! Sunderland welcomes offerings from anyone with something to say that directly relates to our shared passion for SAFC or offers a fresh, illuminating insight into football more generally. Here is a piece submitted by a collaborator (in its nicer sense, not the French one)* on a subject dear to many Sunderland hearts. Can we have our Borini back and where do we stand in trying to make that happen? Let Sean O’Connor take up the story …
Sunderland have stepped up their chase to bring back Liverpool’s Fabio Borini to the Stadium of Light after reportedly making an £8 million bid for the striker.
The 23-year-old spent all of last season on Wearside, netting 10 goals during his spell, and he was even regarded by some as player of the season [Vito Mannone was the official player-of-the-season but Fabio took the young player award – Ed].
With striking options limited for Gus Poyet, the Black Cats must start strengthen up top if they’re to stay clear of relegation this coming term.
Last season, Jozy Altidore failed to impress, Ignacio Scocco achieved little in his limited appearances and the injury-prone Fletcher was hardly reliable. Connor Wickham, whose goals were crucial in the end-of-season escae act, could be on the move with the likes of Southampton and Leicester keeping tabs.
If we’re ruling out those candidates as unviable Premier League options, that only leaves young Duncan Watmore. The starlet has only made one appearance for Sunderland so far since he joined after an impressive spell with non-league Altrincham, but his performances in the youth team have seen him join up with the first team this pre-season and he could be ready to start come August.
But Poyet can’t rely on an inexperienced youngster, regardless of how promising he looks, which is why the Uruguayan is desperate to entice the fans’ favourite, Borini, back to Wearside.
The enigmatic Italian played a major role alongside Wickham in keeping Sunderland in the Premier League last season, and should he become the spearhead of the attack by kick off next month, relegation will surely not be an issue.
In fact, relegation will be the last thing on the minds of Sunderland fans. Poyet has already brought in goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon, Jordi Gomez and West Brom defender Billy Jones this summer; a number of other targets could also be turning up during the coming weeks now the World Cup has ended.
The Nigerian international Michael Babatunde is interested in a move after a solid spell for his country in Brazil and that would certainly help in midfield. And if Borini returned to replicate the form he showed at the back end of last season, then the Blackcats could have a campaign to remember.
The bookmakers agree and Sunderland can currently be backed at 16/1 with a Bet365 freebet to challenge for a Europa League spot come May.
Of course there’s still a lot of work for Poyet and his staff to do. An influx of new faces undoubtedly means they will need time to gel and Pantilimon will have to build an understanding with the likes of Wes Brown, John O’Shea and Billy Jones whilst Babatunde will need to bed in with Adam Johnson and – should they commit their futures to Sunderland – Borini and Wickham.
* This article, on a topic of interest to most Sunderland supporters, was published in collaboration with freebets.com