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Has Fabio Borini been given a fair trial at Liverpool?

Brendan Rodgers brought Fabio Borini to Anfield in 2012 with hopes of regular first team action at one of England’s largest clubs. What has faired so far for the Italian has been far from a dream. Here is Phil Baki with more on the matter.

In 1925, German author Franz Kafka wrote a novel entitled The Trial. In this novel, the protagonist is taken into custody by two men from an unknown agency and charged with a crime that is never enumerated to him or anyone else. He is held in the limbo of this “trial”, which never actually takes place, for a year, never learning his crime, and never escaping the purgatory that he’s trapped in until he is summarily executed.

Fabio Borini’s time at Liverpool Football Club could be summarized as Kafkaesque. He was brought to the club and while he has not been prolific as hoped, he has certainly worked very hard and shown flashes of the player he might have been. Brendan Rodgers, while not the faceless and nameless organization of The Trial, has acted strangely when it comes to Borini. He brought him to the club and has since kept him in limbo, rarely giving him opportunities to impress with an extended run in the team.

Fabio Borini

The lad from Bentivoglio, Italy started to make waves for Chelsea’s reserves in 2009, and in 2010 he had developed enough to get a loan move to Swansea. He made 12 appearances for the Swans, scoring 6 goals and grabbing 4 assists. As a result, his home country took notice. Parma and Roma collaborated to bring Borini back to Italy and he turned out for the capital club 26 times, grabbing 10 goals in that time.  That’s when Borini unwittingly entered the twisted, hellish prison of Franz Kafka’s mind.

Two games into his Liverpool career, Fabio Borini scored against Gomel in a Europa League qualifier. Everything looked set for him to be a solid contributor to the first team straight away.  However, his season was cut very short by two separate injuries. While he did return in time to grab a goal in a late season, 6-0 drubbing of Newcastle, everyone said that the next season would be his chance to prove what he could really do.

He did get his chance to show his stuff, but not at Liverpool. He was loaned to Sunderland where he made 40 overall appearances, scoring 10 goals and notching 4 assists. His performance at Sunderland by no means lit the world on fire, but he was a consistently good performer and he popped up with goals when Sunderland needed them, such as a late winner in the Tyne-Wear Derby. He even helped out Liverpool, essentially denting Chelsea’s title hopes with a late penalty winner at Stamford Bridge.

Now it makes sense that Fabio was not going to get much of a chance in the first team with Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge performing the way they did. They did set the world on fire and Borini would have never gotten anywhere near the pitch while they did it, so the time at Sunderland seemed like it would benefit Fabio, especially when Suarez was sold to Barcelona following the World Cup. It did not.

Liverpool spent most of this summer trying to offload Borini to whoever would take him. He staunchly refused offers from Queens Park Rangers and Sunderland, insisting he would fight for his place in his Kafka Mind Prison. He has made 16 appearances so far this season for Liverpool, grabbing a goal and 2 assists. Overall, it is a pretty abysmal return. However, of those appearances, he has played the full 90 minutes just twice, against Real Madrid in the Champions League and against Swansea in the League Cup. In fact, he has only played more than 30 minutes 6 times. Bottom line, is he inconsistent, ineffectual even? Yes he is, without a doubt. However, has he gotten a fair shake at Liverpool? I would submit that he has not. Let us give Fabio Borini the trial he has been waiting for.

First off, Borini is a poacher. Pull up a Youtube compilation of his goals and you will see that many of his goals are set up by someone else and he is just in the right place at the right time to apply the finish.  Liverpool this season have not scored a ton of goals from inside the box, as well as not scoring through strikers as often as we did last season. Liverpool’s team is not set up for Borini’s style. If Liverpool were able to get him the ball at his feet in the box, he would be deadly. However, Liverpool cannot really get anyone chances inside the box at the moment, and Borini is not getting near the first team.

Second, Brendan Rodgers refuses to give Borini a run in the team. He is the one who recruited Borini because of the success they had in the Championship at Swansea. This relationship spoiled somewhere along the way because even when Daniel Sturridge and Mario Balotelli were both out, Raheem Sterling became the favored option up front. Borini was essentially blacklisted from the team even though he had barely seen the pitch. He was unable to score against Madrid at Anfield and he has only made the subs bench, if that, since then. There were many games where I thought Borini would get a full run-out but he instead was limited to 20 minutes of running and as such trying too hard to make something happen for himself. If he had more opportunities to impress, he probably would not feel as much pressure to do so and would therefore perform better. When you have 20 minutes to show the world what you can do and you have no idea when the next 20 minutes will come, it’s nearly impossible to perform to your actual capabilities.

One shortcoming of Borini’s is his conversion rate. His shooting is often pinpoint accurate and he will try to put shots right in the corners. What this often leads to is fantastic goals but a lot of misses as well. He also shoots from narrow angles because Rodgers often puts him out on the wing. This leads to a lot of shots that are fairly low percentage. His inability to convert the chances he does get makes him an easy target for criticism. As I stated before, I think this is due more to his style of play versus the team’s style than it is a reflection of his ability.

Fabio Borini’s career at Liverpool has been troubled, confusing, and frustrating and it seems destined to end the same way. He’s been arrested and charged by Brendan Rodgers for an unknown crime, as such does not know how to atone for this crime, and he’s now just awaiting the executioner’s (read: Ian Ayre’s) blade.

Written by Phil Baki.

Philip Baki

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