With goals flying in for Liverpool at an absurd rate, it's easy to forget about Fabio Borini. He's playing for a relegation threatened side while Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge scoff at the concept of striker depth with their ceaseless excellence. In fact, SAS have scored more goals than 15 other entire teams.
Nonetheless, with European nights on the horizon and a summer of World Cup wear down coming soon, Liverpool must acquire capable options to back up their star forwards. Iago Aspas doesn't look to be that guy, so Liverpool will have to waste money this summer looking for another striker unless Borini returns from Sunderland.
Borini was criticized heavily last year, but much of the frustration towards him was unwarranted in my opinion. A string of injuries prevented him from finding any rhythm at Anfield, and while his performances were spotty, at least he consistently played with high energy. It's always difficult to track a player on loan, but the glimpses I've gotten of Borini at Sunderland this year have been mostly positive. He's scored six times in 31 appearances for the Black Cats which isn't fantastic, but on a team that's scored only 26 total goals on the season, his record is far from atrocious.
The question with Borini has always been whether he can transfer his raw talent into in-game success. It's seemed that for all his energy, he doesn't challenge the goal with enough frequency or ferocity. At only 22, there is still time for Borini to hone his killer instinct, and the confidence gained from scoring a stunning goal at Wembley in the Capital One Cup final will hopefully spur him on to close the season strongly.
Borini is a multi-dimensional striker who fits Brendan Rodgers' system well, and the pro-Borini camp will look at the Italian striker and see a risk free way to shore up the front line. After all, he still belongs to Liverpool and has years of Premier League experience under his belt. His transfer fee is a sunk cost anyways, and he immediately fills a team need. More importantly, he is a player with massive potential, which is the reason Liverpool paid big bucks to get him in the first place.
If Sunderland avoid relegation, Borini will have a difficult decision to make. He's endeared himself to Sunderland's fan base with a handful of massive goals, and that connection will be difficult to walk away from. If Borini decides that he wants to remain with the Black Cats, I think that Liverpool will respect his decision and sell him to Sunderland.
Aside from potential interest from Sunderland, it makes a lot sense for Borini to remain at Liverpool. However, it remains to be seen whether Rodgers thinks Borini can make the grade as a back up striker, although his recent comments indicate that he's keen to retain the forward. Rodgers told the Echo, "He got an opportunity to play in a major final at Wembley. All that bodes well for the future."
Fans likely want someone more glamorous than Borini to supplement SAS, but with a large sum of money set aside for other needs, it's unlikely that Liverpool will go big on an out and out striker from another club. Borini may never fulfill his potential, but all Liverpool need is someone serviceable. And if Borini does become more aggressive and turns his raw ability into consistent performance, then the best strike force in England will take a big step forward, which is a scary thought for the rest of the league.