Whilst the Rossoneri were spending in abundance this summer, Fabio Borini arrived with few fans and arguably fewer hopes. His loan move from Sunderland surprised many and would have seen more questions asked, had the likes of Andre Silva and Leonardo Bonucci not been catching the eye of the expectant fan base.
His new club promised much, but as yet have not delivered on expectations, as their players try desperately to gel as a cohesive unit. Despite all the odds however, Borini has been one component that has impressed in his time so far.
The 26-year-old has played more times in England than he has in Italy. His beginnings in the Bologna youth team saw him picked up in 2009 by Chelsea, although he only appeared four times. Whilst his potential has seen him join the likes of Parma, Roma, Liverpool, Swansea City and finally Sunderland, his performances have never been consistent enough to see him cement a regular place. Before joining Milan last summer, he had amassed 144 league appearances for all clubs, netting a paltry 31 goals. His performances for Sunderland saw him hold down his most regular spot, slap bang in the middle of a relegation season.
The powers that be in Milan saw in Borini something that others did not. First, he was really not cheap in the circumstances. They had what they thought to be an adaptable squad player, quick, hard-working and resolute. Vincenzo Montella knew that Borini’s character could help his team, as much off the field as on it. In an early interview after his arrival, Fabio commented on how he felt he had matured. He noted that he had been given the role of interpreter by the Coach as he can speak more than one language, and this helped him form a bond with Silva, Ricardo Rodriguez and Hakan Calhanoglu.
In the same interview he also talked about his work ethic and adaptability being two of his biggest assets and this has been notable in his appearances so far. Whilst the Rossoneri have showed glimpses of what they could be, they have also looked disjointed and at times a team of individuals rather than the unit they may well still become. Borini is the counter argument to this, his willingness to sacrifice himself for his team, not to moan about selection and eagerness to play in different positions is endearing him to the fans.
The Derby Della Madonnina is always a game that evokes excitement and there are many players who dream of glory in this fixture. Who wouldn’t, as a forward, want to score Milan’s winner in front of the Curva Sud? This is why the Rossoneri faithful were shocked as in that very game Borini was deployed as a right wing back by Montella, his work rate and technique made it a choice that whilst originally looked like folly, actually wasn’t a bad option. Here, despite his team losing, he had one of his best games in the shirt.
Montella may not have everything under control in San Siro, but his team are slowly improving, and some small amount of credit should go to the 26-year-old multi-tasker. Central midfield both right and left (almost defensive), at wingback and a left-sided forward position, he has helped the team where they have needed it. Now, whilst he may not have excelled in any position to the ultimate degree, he hasn’t disappointed either and his English style of work rate and enthusiasm for ‘mucking in’ is a credit to him. After all, in 13 games he has only played four in what closely resembles his natural position.
Whether Fabio Borini can rebuild his career at Milan as a utility player will be found out over the course of the season, but it is so far, so good. His potential has seen him represent some of Europe’s top clubs, but his consistency has often seen him not develop to the next level. Whilst he is still young, he is evidently maturing, and Montella will want in the trenches with him. He is not the answer for Milan but the way he approaches his duties should be an example for anyone pulling on the red and black stripes.