After a trying and injury-riddled debut season with Liverpool, Fabio Borini appeared to be running out of chances at Anfield. After the signing of Iago Aspas, there wasn't much playing time available for the young Italian, so the club made him available for loan in order to give him a chance to develop and continue adjusting to the senior level of the English game. Paolo Di Canio was looking to reinforce his strike force at Sunderland, and was looking for more Italian blood for his roster. It seemed a match made in heaven.
Unfortunately, Borini made just two appearances with Sunderland before Di Canio was fired for, well, being Paolo Di Canio. Interim coach Kevin Ball didn't favor the young Italian striker, but when Gus Poyet was hired as the full-time man in charge of the Tyneside club, the Uruguayan saw something in Borini that he liked and slowly started working him in to his plans to keep Sunderland afloat.
Borini rewarded Poyet's faith with a goal in his second appearance for his new manager, coming on as a sub and scoring a late winner in the Tyne-Wear derby against Newcastle. He's also had a massive impact during Sunderland's unlikely League Cup run, scoring the equalizer and setting up the extra time winner at the death against Chelsea, as well as the crucial winner in yesterday's semi-final first leg against Manchester United.
Those have been Borini's only goals in a Sunderland kit, but his overall play has been getting better and better as he's made more appearances. He's been earning more and more minutes under Poyet's watch, and it's been a joy to watch the once-bedraggled striker blossom now that he's finally getting regular playing time.
So where does this leave Borini's future with Liverpool? Things are certainly looking brighter than they were just a few months ago. If Borini can continue this strong run of form, he shouldn't have a problem finding a role in Liverpool's squad next season, especially if the club can win a place in next season's Champions League.
While his goalscoring has been limited, Borini been coming up huge at important times, and his play in general has been better than I've ever seen from him, even during the height of his goalscoring run with Roma that put him on the radar two years ago. If he can keep up these improvements, that coupled with his work rate and versatility should assure him a place should Liverpool qualify for Europe's top club tournament. Failing that, he could still be useful to help fill the void of any departures related to missing out on Champions League play.
It looks like we haven't seen the last of Borini in red, which is a good thing in my book. He's a likable young player, full of verve and enthusiasm, and should he play well for Liverpool down the line, he should easily become a fan favorite. Following the rest of his season with Sunderland will be well worth the effort.