Sunderland’s drawn-out pursuit of Fabio Borini is no nearer a conclusion with the Italian still to reach a decision on his future.
The failure to complete the loan signing of Santiago Vergini meant a day many Wearside fans were hoping would end with three additions to Gustavo Poyet’s squad saw only the confirmation of the £10m-plus arrival of midfielder Jack Rodwell.
Some interpreted Poyet’s optimistic weekend assertion that “We’ll know (if Borini is to join) in two or three days” as meaning the forward would give the Black Cats an answer by Wednesday at the latest. The situation was never so set in stone.
Rumours that Borini was having a medical on Wearside yesterday proved unfounded. Sunderland, who play their first pre-season “home” game against Real Betis at Bishop Auckland tonight, agreed a £14m deal with Liverpool after the success of Borini’s season-long loan. But whereas the Reds are happy to take a substantial profit on a player who has only started five Premier League matches for them, the 23-year-old has always been open about his desire to carve out a career at Anfield.
The collapse of former Newcastle United loanee Loic Remy’s proposed transfer and Divock Origi’s £10m arrival from Lille means Brendan Rogers has as many centre-forwards at his disposal as he ended last season with after the £75m sale of Luis Suarez to Barcelona. With a return to Europe next season, Rogers will need more options.
In reality, Borini’s best chance of first-team football – as at Sunderland – will be out wide, where Adam Lallana and Lazar Markovic will provide fresh competition.
Borini has one Liverpool goal to his name since a £10.5m move from Roma two years ago.
But the once-capped Italy international was the only man to score double figures for Sunderland last season, and apart from Adam Johnson and Connor Wickham’s brief purple patches, provided their only real cutting edge.
Sunderland are yet to sign a forward this summer and youngster Mikael Mandron has been linked with a loan to Hartlepool United.
Like Vergini, Borini performed well for the Black Cats last season, and is therefore high on Poyet’s summer shopping list.
So far sporting director Lee Congerton has delivered Billy Jones, Jordi Gomez, Costel Pantilimon, Patrick van Aanholt and Rodwell, who hopes his transfer can revive his England career.
Rodwell made an impressive debut as a substitute in a friendly win over Spain in 2011. His first start followed against Sweden in the same international break.
But a move to Manchester City, combined with a patchy fitness record, ensured he is yet to add to those caps. He started only seven league matches in two seasons.
A deal for Vergini, who will provide cover and competition in the centre of defence and at right-back will go ahead but the complications of his ownership – split between Atletico Fenix and current club Estudiantes – have delayed finalisation, as well as deterring a permanent move.
Vergini made 13 starts for Sunderland last season after joining on loan in January.
Tonight’s game at Heritage Park kicks off at 7.30pm.