Grasping Borini's puzzling decision
Fabio Borini must really enjoy weekend shopping with the wife, as chances are he is going to have a lot of spare time on his hands over the coming months after pricing himself out of moves to QPR and Sunderland.
Between now and the reopening of the transfer window in January, the Italian striker's chances of playing first-team football appear to be slim and none. Unlike other fringe players at Anfield such as Suso and Lucas Leiva, however, Borini's situation is one entirely of his own choosing.
His motives for staying put aren't exactly clear, and his somewhat cryptic Twitter outburst on Tuesday has done little to clarify the situation.
Finally the madness is finished! I protected the MAN and the player that I am today...- fabio borini (@borinifabio29) September 2, 2014
...taking all the responsibility of the situation and for people who didn't want it...- fabio borini (@borinifabio29) September 2, 2014
...and I m VERY happy with myself to have taken such an important decision!- fabio borini (@borinifabio29) September 2, 2014
Maybe he just wasn't prepared to give up his Liverpool dream without a fight and hopes to force his way into the team. As a footballer, you have to back your own ability, and I would imagine he sees himself as being a better option than, for example, Rickie Lambert, who is currently third in the front-line picking order. Furthermore, Borini knows Daniel Sturridge has had various injury problems and, let's face it, no one knows what could happen with Mario Balotelli from one moment to the next.
It's certainly not impossible that Borini could end up getting an opportunity to prove himself at Anfield, but unless there is an injury crisis, it appears highly unlikely. And if his heart was set on staying and fighting for his place, then why make any wage demands to QPR and Sunderland at all? Surely you would just tell them you're not interested, as Jordan Henderson did two years ago when he could have joined Fulham. That move didn't happen because Henderson said he wanted to remain at Anfield, not because he demanded too much money.
I just don't get Borini's thinking. It's difficult to see any upside from his decision. His wage demands were highly unrealistic, but both QPR and Sunderland were reportedly prepared to pay him more than he earns from his existing deal at Liverpool. It's easy to label Borini "greedy" based on reports he wanted 90,000 pounds a week from QPR, but by turning down the Londoners and Sunderland he's not only financially worse off, but he's also not going to be playing much football over the next four months. How can he be happy with that situation?
Usually it's the backup goalkeepers who are happy to be paid for doing nothing. In general, most footballers want to play; if they aren't playing, they'll look to move. Martin Kelly may have been at Liverpool his whole life, but he wasn't going to feature much this season and moved to Crystal Palace. Most would have done the same in his position. He wanted to play, and you have to respect that.
It's quite rare that you get a talented young striker on the fringes of his international squad who is content to watch from the stands. That's what Borini is essentially doing by refusing to move, as Brendan Rodgers has already stated it would be best for the Italian to leave as his opportunities are going to be severely restricted.
Fans often get annoyed with footballers who refuse to move on when they are surplus to requirements, but there's a lot of hypocrisy in that when you consider the vitriol aimed at players who want to leave against the club's wishes. Contracts and loyalty work both ways. Borini was given a contract by Liverpool, and he's perfectly entitled to stay and honour it if he chooses. He's doing nothing wrong, but I do find it difficult to understand where he's coming from.
Of course he'd rather be at Liverpool than drop down the Premier League to a side likely to be in a relegation battle, and if he were even on the substitutes bench and getting the occasional run out it would almost be a no-brainer. That isn't the case, though. He's a long way from Liverpool's first team. Surely playing first-team football in front of 40,000 fans at the Stadium of Light is preferable to watching Jeff Stelling and the Soccer Saturday panel on Sky Sports every weekend?
What makes Borini's reluctance to move all the more difficult to comprehend is that he had a great time at Sunderland last season. He appeared and scored in a cup final at Wembley and played a key role in their remarkable escape from relegation. The fans up there idolise him. Even now his Twitter profile sees him in a Sunderland shirt. Yet for whatever reason he didn't want to return there. It's baffling.
I'm not angry with Borini for staying at Anfield, though. Far from it. As a Liverpool fan, I'm more than happy to have him in the squad, even if he is fourth choice. I like him, he's a good player, and from a footballing perspective, it's good that he's still here. Rodgers initially said he wanted four strikers for this season, and beneath the top three there isn't a whole lot there in terms of youngsters knocking on the door.
Borini ensures depth should it be needed, and I doubt there's a better fourth-choice striker in the Premier League. I just feel that he's too good to sit in the stands and that he is probably wasting a year of his career chasing a dream that will always be out of his reach.
Dave Usher is one of ESPN FC's Liverpool bloggers. Follow him on Twitter: @theliverpoolway.