“There is potential, but we have to take our time because they’re very young players… There are 17-year-olds who are very, very good… I think that the next period, we can put some of them in the first-team, players from the academy… Also, there’s a young Italian who’s very good though I don’t want to say the name..” – Carlo Ancelotti on Chelsea’s Academy.
The former Chelsea manager was of course referring to his youth team captain Fabio Borini. One of Chelsea’s brightest youth prospects, Borini is now set to take the premier league by storm as new Liverpool manager unveils him as his first signing of the season. THT looks at what makes him such an “exciting” prospect.
Rodgers has clearly outlined his vision on what type of player he wants at Liverpool and the young Italian ace seems to fit the bill perfectly. Quick, intelligent and an uncanny eye for goal, Borini would be expected to provide a much needed attacking edge to the misfiring Merseyside giants.
Rodgers, of course knows all about his man, having worked with him previously at the youth setup in Chelsea and then at Swansea in 2011.
In his interview about Borini, Rodgers spoke glowingly of his new charge – “He’s technically strong, he’s a good finisher with both feet, he can play central or on the sides in a 4-3-3 up front, he’s quick, and he’s tactically very good. He is arguably the best physical player I’ve worked with in terms of his pace, power and fitness. Mentally, he’s very strong. We’ve got a player who is on the up and someone who I think Liverpool will benefit from.“
Borini made the switch to Roma last season and scored 9 goals in 24 games in the league and 10 in total. A return which earned him a call-up in Italy’s Euro 2012 squad. The 21 year old is highly versatile and play all across the front line. Borini is as equally adept at playing the target man as the support striker. However, he played primarily on the right for Roma last season.
At Swansea, Rodgers employed Borini as a target-man. It is likely that he would do the same at Liverpool. However, if Andy Carroll were to stay this season then we might see Borini being employed as a wide forward.
Ancelotti is said to have compared Borini to Milan legend Filipo Inzaghi. The Chelsea manager described him as a “nuisance” and praised the youngster for “pestering the opposition defenders in order to cause a spillage of possession.”
Quite like his prolific Italian predecessor, the 5 ft 11 inch striker has great anticipation and always seems to be at the right place at the right time – a skill which is not often given its due credit.
Borini has played just one full season of top-flight football at Roma but has already shown glimpses that he can be a prolific goal-scorer for whichever club he plays for. A quick look at his scoring pattern shows that all of his 10 goals were scored from within the penalty area. 3 of these were from inside the 6 yard box.
The Italian took his goals expertly and many were from clinical shots which were fired just past the legs of the goalkeeper – an area which is notoriously difficult to save.
Borini has the ability to find pockets of space between defenders and his intelligent movement and anticipation means that he often finds himself at the end of crosses, through-balls. His hunger to be first to the ball results in him scoring a fair share of goals from rebounds. A trait which Livepool fans would find particularly endearing after the Reds hit the woodwork a record 33 times in the league last season.
A failure to notch up an assist throughout the season signals that Borini excels at being on the end of a goal scoring opportunity rather than creating one. This would please Liverpool fans as The Reds created the highest number of goal scoring opportunities after Manchester City but were particularly profligate in front goal.
However, it would be criminal to describe Borini as simply a penalty box predator. The Bentivoglio native has a lot more to his game than simply scoring goals. Borini was indirectly involved in several attacking moves throughout the season and his intelligent runs often dragged away defenders, thereby creating space for other attackers in the side. Fabio played 16 key passes to fellow Roma players. Borini also made more successful tackles than any other attacking player for Roma last season despite starting in only 20 games. His industrious nature will suit Rodgers’ perfectly as he sets up his teams to press high up the pitch.
Borini is also a specialist free kick taker – A skill which he attributes to training sessions with none other than Didier Drogba. In the absence of Gerrard, Liverpool have sorely lacked a goal threat from set pieces and the Italian international would be keen on taking up the responsibility in the captains absence.
Borini moved to England at the tender age of 16 and found it difficult to adjust to the conditions. Fabio often felt lonely and alienated in the foreign country but his fighting spirit ensured that he was able to cement his place in Chelsea’s youth set-up. A shy character off the pitch, Borini is fiercely competitive on it. This kid is a warrior, as showcased in his trademark celebration of having a knife in between the teeth. Borini has an insatiable fire in his belly and would go to all lengths to achieve success. Borini has won praise from all his managers for his professional approach and his discipline. Fabio Borini’s determination to succeed, coupled with Rodgers’ top quality coaching, would ensure that the forward is able to reach his full potential at Anfield.
At 21, Borini is still far from the finished article and there are areas in his game which could improve. The Italian finished his season at Roma with a somewhat low pass accuracy of 75.7%. This would certainly have to improve at Liverpool. The Roma forward is not known for his vision and is not particularly proficient at finding team-mates in the opposition penalty area. Rodgers’ coaching and playing alongside the likes of quality players like Suarez and Gerrard would help him improve in this area.
Borini only managed to average 2 shots per game and had a shooting accuracy of 37.5% during the course of the season in spite of most of his shots coming from within the penalty area. This could possibly be attributed to him playing wide for Roma. Borini has a powerful shot on him and he must try and develop his shooting from long range. Borini is a good finisher and can already score from a variety of positions with either foot. Rodgers would definitely try to encourage him to have more attempts on goal to boost his goal-scoring chances.
Although blessed with a good first touch, Borini is not a great dribbler of the ball and does not have the ball retention skills as some of his other Liverpool teammates. With his personalized tiki-taka approach, this is an area which Rodgers will look to improve upon.
Borini is very much a diamond in the rough and has just started to show glimpses of his potential at the highest level. In Brendan Rodgers, he has a coach who has overseen his development as a footballer since he was 16. Liverpool could prove to be the ideal platform for the Italian to catapault to superstardom.
The 10 million pounds for Borini’s transfer from Roma looks to be money well spent by Liverpool. The determined young lad from Italy has the tools in his locker as well as the mentality to become a household name. Some of the best forwards in the history of the game have donned the red shirt of Liverpool. Borini could be well on his way to joining the pantheon of greats at Anfield.