Despite West Bromwich Albion’s insistence that they wouldn’t be selling promising youngster Saido Berahino and that they hadn’t had any discussions whatsoever with Liverpool concerning him, rumours linking the 21-year-old striker to Anfield just won’t go away. The latest iteration has Liverpool again in for him and willing to pay West Brom’s exorbitant £23M valuation—but only once they sell Borini.
Even ignoring West Brom’s statements about the player, though, Liverpool moving for Berahino looked highly unlikely the second it became clear the club would seek to bring Divock Origi in this month by paying Lille £3M to terminate his loan six months early. Both players are young, raw, and in a run of terrible form. Origi, though, is the superior player right now and also the superior prospect by a fairly comfortable margin.
Liverpool have already spent £10M on their future number nine and are set to see that number rise in the coming month, and so it seems higly unlikely they would spend nearly double that again to bring in another promising but raw starlet who would then just end up stuck behind Origi on Liverpool’s bench. Berahino isn’t a bad player, but suggestions he could cost around £23M make him a poster child for English inflation.
The fee West Brom want for him could have brought in Alexandre Lacazette over the summer, though his fee will have risen since and Lyon would be loathe to sell while challenging for the title. This month, though, it would come close to paying for two of Luciano Vietto, Paco Alcacer, and Paulo Dybala. All have been linked to Liverpool over the past year. All are, like Berahino, 21 years of age. All are currently better strikers.
And then there’s the Borini half of the rumour. If the goal would be to have his sale pay for half of Berahino—and even then ignoring that Borini’s sale would in that case pay for an entire Vietto, Alcacer, or Dybala—and so make the outlay seem a little more reasonable, the reality is that Liverpool won’t get that much for him. Borini was close to a £12-14M move to Sunderland or QPR last summer. He wouldn’t fetch that now.
He’s spent the past half season stuck to Liverpool’s bench, largely frozen out of the team throughout Liverpool’s striker crisis. He’s clearly unwanted, he hasn’t been playing, and he’s burned another six months off his contract. Liverpool are desperate to be rid of him and memories of his young player of the season campaign for Sunderland last year are faded, as is Sunderland's interest in him. To put it bluntly, he has little market value left.
That £12-14M fee last summer always seemed high for Borini. And it was, driven by a fresh television deal and Sunderland’s willingness to invest a significant chunk of that windfall in a player they knew and liked. When QPR lined up on deadline day, desperate for some striker help and willing to match the Black Cats, most were shocked. Having been burned by Borini, both are likely now off the table as potential destinations.
What Liverpool are left with is an unwanted asset that every club on the planet knows they don't want. He hasn’t played, lacks match fitness, and has been frozen out at a time when he’s needed minutes for his development. And his most likely landing spot will be nervous about trying for him again given his public refusals to move there over the summer. If Liverpool can get even half of £12-14M for him in January, it will be a minor miracle.
All of which brings us back to Berahino. Because even if Liverpool can pawn off Fabio Borini—and it’s far from certain at this point that they can, or that the player is yet willing to go—it won’t be for a great deal of money. Berahino, meanwhile, is about as poor a value as a club could get at anything like the valuation West Brom has set for him, and would quickly find himself behind Origi on Liverpool’s bench.
If you never wanted him at Liverpool to begin with due to his inflated price tag, at this point you can probably breathe a sigh of relief. If you did want him and perhaps still do, unfortunately the chances of him ending up at Anfield now lie somewhere between slim and nil.
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