Fabio Borini says the chance to “get his football back” at Sunderland was the key factor behind his decision to return to the Stadium of Light.
Borini was a player in demand this summer, with Inter Milan, Fiorentina, West Ham and Watford all joining Sunderland in keeping tabs on the Italian, who had been frozen out at former club Liverpool.
But it was Sunderland who re-signed their former loanee Borini in a £7.75million deal 48 hours before the transfer deadline, to end the Black Cats’ 13-month pursuit of the 24-year-old.
Borini was well aware of all the options at his disposal, but, after being limited to just four Premier League starts for Liverpool last season and being forced to train alone during pre-season, the chance to be a first-team regular again at Sunderland proved too good to turn down.
“I’m happy to be here because I can play football and that’s what I wanted and what I missed the most,” said Borini.
“Sunderland could give me my football back.
“I can name all the clubs that came for me and it’s quite a lot. There were clubs that haven’t been named.
“But I made the decision that I wanted to make because I want to play football.
“That’s the most important thing.
“That’s why I came back to a place where I have been loved and still feel the love from the supporters.
“I don’t need to adapt to a new club because I already know how it works.
“And, of course, playing every week is what I’ve missed the most.”
Sunderland didn’t join the race for Borini until August, yet there was concrete interest from Serie A far earlier in the summer after it was crystal clear that he had no future at Liverpool.
But Borini wanted to bide his time to ensure he made the right career step, even if that meant training away from the rest of the first-team squad at Liverpool, along with fellow exiles Mario Balotelli and Jose Enrique.
“I could have made a decision in June when teams were after me, when I wanted to get back to playing,” he said.
“But I didn’t do anything then because I didn’t think it was the right decision.
“Of course, I didn’t want to wait until the end of August because it meant training on my own for a month at Liverpool.
“The sooner it came the better.
“But I had to wait until the end because I felt that way that I could put myself in the best position possible to make the right decision.”
Given Borini’s eagerness to play regularly though, it inevitably prompts the question over why he didn’t jump at the chance to join Sunderland in a £14m move 12 months ago.
Borini understandably wanted to test himself at Liverpool in the Champions League, but the striker – who has subsequently changed his agent – has again hinted that the summer-long transfer saga for his signature was beyond his control.
“It was a case of a situation which wasn’t under my control because of many people around me,” he added.
“I couldn’t make the right decision and I didn’t have the solution under my control.
“When you can’t control your future you can’t be blamed for something that didn’t happen.
“Every player wants to play Champions League football, but, as I said, I couldn’t make that decision because I was never put in a place to make that decision.”