Fabio Borini is not worth £14million. By any objective measure, his CV is not that of a player worth so much – just yet.
But this summer, Borini is certainly worth £14million to Sunderland.
How does that work? Well the Italian striker scored seven Premier League goals in 32 games last season: a return that looks, on the face of things, pretty ordinary. He slipped out of Italy contention and for a fair chunk of the season and at times, Gus Poyet seemed unconvinced about his worth in a central striking role.
So £14million? I’m not sure. Liverpool paid £10.5million and it is a bit of a stretch to say that his value has gone up significantly in the meantime.
Yet if Sunderland do manage to clinch this deal, the fact that they have overpaid slightly should not be the overriding talking point of Borini arriving on Wearside. For everything that the transfer would represent, it would be £14million well-spent for Sunderland.
Lee Congerton needs a statement signing. Poyet needs an arrival that will re-assert his belief that next year will be different for his Black Cats. Borini would tick both boxes and also provide the sort of enterprise and attacking edge that Sunderland have been sorely missing over the last couple of years.
If the only way to inject this into the squad is to overspend then so be it. This is a summer when Ross McCormack commands £11million and Watford haggle with Leicester over Troy Deeney’s £9million valuation. Leonardo Ulloa – at 28 – is worth £8million. Unless you are safely nestled among the Premier League’s established teams, and Sunderland are not after their brushes with relegation, you will have to pay some kind of a premium. It is absolutely inevitable.
It is debatable whether in the post-Bosman days, transfer fees are the most reliable measure of a player’s worth anyway. The money spent is usually a reflection of how long they have left on their contract and whether they represent an asset with significant re-sale value.
If you add in the impact it has on a football club, Borini at £14million starts to look like a responsible use of resources.