Stop Press: deal done – see new posting
Reports of Fabio Borini’s proposed return to Sunderland have a stronger look today than they ever did when a whole summer seemed to be wasted trying to bring back a player whose heart lay elsewhere.
When the Sunderland Echo says a player is attending the academy for a medical, the fee agreed with his present club, we are entitled to believe it is probably true. The story has gathered more steam as the day has proceeded.
But there can be few imminent transfers, in or out of the club, that are more calculated to divide opinion.
Monsieur Salut has seen a string of views from supporters, both for and against. The figures quoted, between £7m and £10m, do seem high for a player who has had limited playing time at Liverpool and has only a year left on his contract. But our absolute requirement to strengthen is serious enough to make that a moot point.
It is also true, as has been argued here and elsewhere, that our most pressing need is at the other end.
The defence has been run ragged in three of the four Premier games so far, and even in the League Cup against inconsequential lower-league opposition. O’Shea and Kaboul formed a partnership that seemed a great deal more convincing at Villa Park than all that had preceded it, but that does not equate with it being exactly reassuring. As for our full backs, the best that can be said it that they don’t look too bad going forward.
But if we know that, so does Dick Advocaat. Ellis Short and Lee Congerton know it, too. So bringing Borini back does not mean they are neglecting the overwhelming duty to address back-four shortcomings. Time is running out but that is the nature of transfer windows. I have already submitted, as requested, my appraisal of Sunderland’s performance in the window to ESPN FC, but my editors there know only too well that everything, including the mark out of 10 I have awarded, is open to radical change come tomorrow evening.
Back to Borini. I rate him. His goals versus Newcastle United, Chelsea and especially Man City in the League Cup and at home to WBA to secure survival under Poyet will long remain in Sunderland memories. I cannot fault a player who gives everything while on loan to Sunderland but really feels he ought to be better appreciated at Liverpool or courted back home in Serie A.
Of the various onlines messages and tweets I have seen, Chris Flynn at Twitter – https://twitter.com/chrisflynn65 – has come up with the most sensible view: “Fans need to remember that Borini turned us down purely for football reasons. When he signs we as fans must give him 110% backing.”
But the mischief-maker in me also warmed to Paddy Power’s impertinent offering:
— Paddy Power (@paddypower) August 31, 2015
I’d love to see other views, including those of Liverpool fans.