Treatment from Liverpool still angers new Sunderland signing Fabio Borini

Fabio Borini scores Sunderlands goal against Manchester City. Picture by FRANK REID
Fabio Borini scores Sunderlands goal against Manchester City. Picture by FRANK REID

There’s the same beaming smile, the same jokes about English food and the same late arrival for his interview after leaving the training field last.

As he sits down for his first encounter with the press since his £7.75million move from Liverpool less than a fortnight ago, that ambition to play and succeed at his craft continues to burn brightly in Fabio Borini.

It was really upsetting. It was the killer that led me to leave Liverpool

Fabio Borini

The big difference now is that Borini isn’t constantly being asked about his future. Sunderland have gone and got their man after 13 months of “on-off” negotiations, and several months before that when everyone wondered if the Black Cats had a chance of snaring him permanently.

But there is also a change in Borini himself.

There is a hurt and an anger that the Italian doesn’t try to hide after the manner of his final few weeks at Liverpool – a club, remember, that wanted him sufficiently to spend more than £10m to acquire his services just two years ago.

Rather than participating in Liverpool’s pre-season programme, Borini was exiled by Brendan Rodgers.

He wasn’t even allowed to train with the first-team squad; instead being forced to keep his fitness up with fellow discarded players Mario Balotelli and Jose Enrique.

But unlike the other two members of that trio, Borini’s attitude or commitment was unquestionable.

He had simply been jettisoned to push him closer to the exit door.

“It was really upsetting. It was the killer that led me to leave Liverpool,” said Borini.

“I always gave everything for the club and I showed that on the pitch and in training.

“Everyone knows within that club that I did everything and never complained.

“They make you train at different times from the first team, so I was actually not seeing them – not because of my behaviour, or because I had said something or done something wrong.

“I did everything right and people inside the club know that.

“I can’t really say why, because I don’t know why.”

Sunderland ended Borini’s Anfield misery by splashing out 48 hours before the end of the transfer window, to re-sign a player who netted 10 goals during his season-long loan two years ago.

The question now that he’s finally a Sunderland player again, is where, not if, he will play.

Borini spent the majority of his loan spell operating as a left-sided forward under Gus Poyet, even though he wanted to play centrally.

But Dick Advocaat had been eager to strengthen his options in the centre-forward position this summer after coming to the conclusion that Jermain Defoe was unable to operate as a lone striker.

Borini said: “I always prefer to play up front.

“I prefer to play with two because it’s most natural for me.

“Obviously the physicality there is more, but I have played on the left in England, and people see me more as a winger than a striker, probably because of the physical impact.

“But I played as a striker in Italy, no problem.

“At Chelsea, I played up front for Carlo Ancelotti, and in the reserves, but if I have to play on the left it is no problem. I will play goalkeeper if I have to!”

Perhaps tellingly, Borini played centrally in a behind-closed-doors game against Hartlepool last week, which more crucially gave the 24-year-old the chance to boost his match sharpness after his minimal pre-season.

He has no reservations that he is now fit to start against Spurs on Sunday, when Sunderland return to Premier League action.

“I’m ready because I asked to play 60 minutes last week in a game,” he said.

“I’ve been working on my own at Liverpool, but this international break has helped me to adapt to the work here.”

If Borini can rediscover and then exceed the form he showed during his loan spell on Wearside, his hope is that it will be sufficient to force his way into the Italy squad for next summer’s European Championships.

Borini hasn’t been called up by his country since winning his one and only cap in 2012, yet believes his international prospects will be far better as a regular at Sunderland than as a fringe player at Liverpool.

“Yes, for sure I want to get back in the Italy squad,” he added.

“Looking back at the previous games and the players that Italy have up front, they hardly play, unfortunately for us.

“Look at England, every player up front plays regularly and that makes it more difficult for Italy.

“Coming back to a positive environment like Sunderland, compared to Liverpool, makes it easier for me with playing every week.”