Many fans were chuckling when AC Milan signed Fabio Borini in the summer of 2017. It was the dawn of the short and ill-fated era of Chinese ownership. Borini was one of the 11 signings that summer as he arrived on loan from Sunderland.
Multiple senior figures from Goal.com saw him as the “worst transfer in the Serie A in the summer of 2017”. No one wanted to see the signing.
He was not Vincenzo Montella’s signing either. While the Rossoneri got rid of Montella mid-season, Borini went onto make 29 appearances in the Serie A. He scored one goal too, assisting twice on the way.
Out of those 29, as many as 19 were starts. Under Rino Gattuso too, Borini was a regular feature of the side. His versatility stood out, as he even did a job at right-back. Gattuso clearly either appreciated his workrate or played him due a lack of better options.
Last season, the former Roma striker made only 10 starts under Gattuso. He did score twice and assist twice, but was hardly a regular. Gattuso was again used in a variety of positions ranging from right-back to his prefered striker position. He would work hard, no matter where he played.
Fast forward to this season, Borini has played only twice. Under Marco Giampaolo, he found himself short of technical ability. He did start the first game of the season against Udinese. But he hasn’t been in the starting line-up since then.
During the last January transfer window, there was clear interest from China. Shenzhen came close to signing the versatile workhorse but later said that they had dropped interest in him. It is clear that Milan were keen on letting him go but the demand for the fee of around €10 million wasn’t an incentive.
Since then, there has been nothing concrete on the transfers’ front. Borini remains a Milan player, much to the frustration of many Milan fans. He played as the central midfielder against Udinese- a weird decision considering his lack of technical ability. His performance drew immense criticism.
It wasn’t his fault that Giampaolo played him as a midfielder in a system that requires dynamic players. But the fact that he hasn’t been used since says a lot.
Against the Friuli based side, Borini was dispossessed twice and was dribbled past twice too. He could play just 17 times in the game- third-worst on the pitch (via Whoscored).
He started the season as he had finished the last one too. The former Giallorossi started in Milan’s 3-2 win over SPAL on the last day of the previous campaign. While his workrate and ability to help out the full-back showed, he didn’t play a single key pass. Playing on the left-wing, that should not be too acceptable at a club like Milan. He played only 12 more passes than Gianluigi Donnarumma- who was taken off in the 20th minute, says Whoscored.
It was a performance that just showed his strengths and weaknesses. He did win five aerial duels and performed defensive duties. But going forward, he was a disappointment. He provided limited support to Suso and Krzysztof Piatek.
It is worth pointing out that players with a tenacity like Borini’s can be a rare breed today. But for someone who joined for a fee as less as €5.50 million, it would be worth getting some money in.
Milan aren’t in the best position financially. They recently posted record losses of €145.9 million and had backed away from Europa League football due to their financial troubles. Getting around €9-10 million for a player like Borini will help in getting rid of these issues. He is a player who doesn’t play and is surplus to needs.
As far as the player is concerned, he is still only 28. He still has a good 5-6 years of football in him. He should not wait for his career to stagnate at Milan.