Sometimes, maybe even most times, it seems as though at Liverpool heading out on loan is only ever the first step towards leaving for good. No matter the age or promise, it can seem a signal that any chance a player had of making a meaningful contribution at Anfield has already come and gone. For many there is the belief that if a player isn't good enough to be kept around in some capacity in the present, that there really isn't any hope for their future.
And so when Fabio Borini's loan was finally confirmed on Monday night after an interminable wait that saw nothing and nothing and nothing again happen for more than a day following the announcement he was undergoing a medical at Sunderland, it was no surprise many Liverpool fans might have chosen to believe he was no longer in manager Brendan Rodgers' plans. Rodgers, though, isn't willing to write the young striker off just yet.
"He had a stop-start season last year with his injuries and I just felt this year he needed to go and play football," said the Liverpool manager of the 22-year-old Borini's need for playing time after spending almost an entire season on the sidelines at what should have been an important stage in the player's development. "With Daniel Sturridge, Luis Suárez, Iago Aspas and some of the other attacking players, that might have been limited."
It's hard to argue with Rodgers' reasoning, as without European football to contend with and with Luis Suarez' return from his ban for nibbling on Branislav Ivanovic only two games away, one doesn't imagine Borini would see the pitch more than occasionally were he to remain at Anfield this season—no matter how well he might play when given the chance. Still, if he's not good enough to force himself into the conversation today, his ability to do so in the future will remain a question for some. Just not the manager.
"I have a real belief in Fabio," insisted Rodgers. "He is a talent and we've seen that on occasions, but he needs to be playing regularly to demonstrate that talent. We had a host of clubs wanting to take him, but with Sunderland having the Italian connection there and being a big club where he can go and play, I'm sure he'll get the chance to shine and we'll look closely at his development this year."
Here's hoping Rodgers' faith in the player is rewarded and that with a few games under his belt with Sunderland this season, Borini can return a player fully able to force his way into the conversation at Liverpool as a top four-calibre forward.