Fabio Borini’s move from Sunderland to AC Milan in the summer was overlooked and he was pegged to be nothing but a depth option who would rarely see the pitch. Instead, Borini has become a welcomed site on the pitch, and even received praise and chants from Milan’s Curva Sud in their recent Coppa Italia victory over Hellas Verona.
On the morning of June 28 of this past summer, Milan announced the signing of Borini. This was another one of their “secret” transfers that no one knew was coming like that of André Silva, but many were left dumbfounded. Borini was fresh off a season where he barely provided anything on the pitch for a relegated Sunderland squad, so the reasoning for his signing in Milan’s most expensive transfer market in history was in question.
Borini made a name for himself while at AS Roma in their 2011-2012 campaign where he netted an impressive nine goals in 24 matches. At Sunderland last season, however, he only scored two goals and created a total of 15 chances in 24 appearances. To put this in perspective, Keisuke Honda who warmed the bench for the Rossoneri last season, managed to score one goal and create 11 chances in 16 fewer appearances. It’s safe to say that Borini’s run at Sunderland was vastly disappointing and that his signing with the red and black resembled those of the unsuccessful end of the Silvio Berlusconi and Adriano Galliani era with Milan.
The Italian was brought to Milan due to his apparent versatility and his promise to be the hardest worker in training and on the pitch day-in and day-out. The majority of fans scoffed at this, but Italian has proved everyone wrong.
He hasn’t seen much success on the wing which many figured was his natural position, but he adopted the role of a right wing-back with much success. Ignazio Abate was at first the obvious choice to replace Andrea Conti after he ruptured his ACL in that role, but Borini has quickly made it his own. Although he makes the occasional misplaced pass or sometimes sends crosses over all the players in the opposing team’s box, his effort is second to none and he’s shown a clutch gene that many never figured he had.
Borini can be seen giving his all in every single match he plays, which tends to cover his limitations as a footballer. His underrated performances at the end of matches was very apparent in Milan’s Europa League fixture versus Rijeka on September 28th, where he delivered an absolute gem of a pass to Patrick Cutrone who smoothly converted and earned Milan all three points in the dying seconds of the match. In addition to this, Borini has notched six assists in 15 appearances thus far, placing him second overall in assists this season for Milan only behind Suso.
Although there is no doubt that Borini’s adopted position will become Conti’s once match-fit again, the ‘unsung hero’ has won many fans over.
Borini isn’t the savior to the current disappointing season nor is he the perfect footballer, but his effort and work rate should earn him a permanent role on this team. He’s an ideal substitute option for a manager like Gennaro Gattuso who advocates passion and ‘grinta’ on the pitch, and at this rate he’s sure to see more success as a member of the rebuilding Diavolo squad.