It's always dangerous to call a transfer a done deal before it's actually, officially, completely a done deal. Still, with reliable sources in Italy and England reporting it as everything short of that, Fabio Borini to Liverpool seems as certain as anything in the silly season can until the player is paraded around Anfield in a red shirt.
News of an agreed fee was nearly ubiquitous in the Italian media on Thursday night, with Sky Italia leading the way with reports of a base €13M Euro—or a little more than £10M—deal for the Roma striker. Meanwhile, generally reliable journalists like The Times' Tony Barrett have since confirmed a deal—at least in principle—is in place on the English side. Following on the BBC's Ben Smith reporting earlier in the week that Borini was Brendan Rodgers' planned "exciting" transfer to be completed within the week, it appears that Liverpool's first signing of the summer is indeed imminent.
Borini signed for Chelsea as a 17-year-old from the Bologna academy at a time when Italian clubs weren't allowed to offer professional contracts to players until they turned 18, and once in England the young striker began his career in English football under the tutelage of Brendan Rodgers, who at the time was in charge of Chelsea's academy. Rodgers, however, would soon move on to managing Watford, Reading, and then Swansea City, while Borini waited at Chelsea for his break to come and with it a chance to prove himself in the first team.
That chance never came, and with his contract winding down towards the end of the 2010-11 season and few signs of first team opportunities on the horizon given Chelsea's well stocked senior side, Borini pushed for a loan in the hopes of finding playing time. He soon found himself linking back up with Brendan Rodgers, heading out late in the season on a short term loan at Swansea. The manager's intimate knowledge of his former pupil helped Borini hit the ground running, and as centre forward in Rodgers' preferred 433 he played in twelve games following his arrival, scoring six times and helping secure promotion for the Welsh club.
There was some talk at the time that the player might look to remain at Swansea the following season, particularly following victory in the Championship playoff final and given widespread talk of the player's enjoyment of English football. However, it soon emerged that while still at Chelsea and frustrated by his lack of first team opportunities he had signed a pre-contract agreement to head back to Italy with Serie A side Parma for the 2011-12 season. As compensation, the London club received a paltry €90,000 training fee for each of the four years Borini had spent in their system, four years that now qualify him as English trained under UEFA's rules.
Almost immediately after arriving in Italy, Borini headed to Roma on a €1.25M season loan deal that included an option to buy the player at the end of the 2011-12 term. However, rather than opting to trigger the included buy option, in January Roma bought a partial ownership stake in the player from Parma for €2.3M in a rather complicated deal that also saw a Roma player Parma were interested sent to the northern club on loan with an option to purchase half of that player's rights at the end of the season for a cut rate of €300,000.
Last month, Roma then won the remainder of Borini's rights in a blind auction for €5.3M. All told, it meant Roma had invested close to nine million Euros worth of fees in the player, one who last season started twenty games for them and made a further six substitute appearances while scoring ten goals on 48 shots—a finishing rate of over 20% that speaks to the striker's reputation as a clinical finisher. There were, however, some concerns amongst Roma fans that he could at times seem a touch lightweight, that he had a tendency to hold onto the ball too long, and that he didn't perhaps have as much pace as would be ideal, though in every case that he was playing for the first time in his career on the wing instead of in the middle may have had something to do with his difficulties.
When Roma won full ownership of the player, widespread rumours that had suggested Borini would join his old boss at Liverpool should Parma win the blind auction quickly died down, and most assumed Borini's future was certain and settled in Serie A. Since the start of this week, though, when Brendan Rodgers suggested an "exciting" signing would be confirmed by the end of it, Borini's future in Italy has looked increasingly uncertain. Today, it appears that about the only thing left is for a contract to be signed and an official press release from Liverpool be made over the next day or two. Though of course, until that happens nothing is ever completely, entirely, one-hundred percent certain when it comes to transfers.