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English Premier League

The Curious Case of Fabio Borini – What does his future hold?



The loan system has come under fierce criticism in recent seasons. Watford’s “Loan Army” in 2012-13 season, who missed out on promotion in the Play-Off Final, began the season with 14 loanees in the squad. Although nothing underhand was done, the sustainability of it was widely questioned, and there were even calls for FIFA to amend the rules surrounding the loan system as a result. As with everything though, there are examples of how the loan system can benefit all parties involved, as with Gerard Deulofeu. The Barcelona youngster joined Everton on loan at the beginning of the 2013-14 season knowing that his first team opportunities with his parent club would be restricted, especially after the big money summer signing of Neymar. Likewise is the case for Fabio Borini.

Questions were asked of Liverpool, and indeed manager Brendan Rodgers, after forking out around £10.5million for the Italian in summer of 2012. An injury hit first season at Anfield resulted in 13 League appearances, and only one league goal. One thing Borini needed above all was a clean bill of health, coupled with an extended run in the team – something that Liverpool could not offer. Loaning Borini out seemed the best option for Liverpool, who specifically looked for a suitable Premier League team to give the striker a chance to become more accustomed to the Premier League.

In his short career so far, Borini hasn’t really settled at a single club for an extended period of time. Coming through the Chelsea youth system, Borini suffered the same fate as teammates (at the time) Nemanja Matic, Miroslav Stoch and Scott Sinclair in being sold on. He did however show glimpses of his ability when loaned out to Swansea in a two month deal. 6 Goals in 8 games including winning a penalty in the Play-Off Final sealed Swansea’s promotion to the Premier League under Brendan Rodgers.

Borini made it clear to Chelsea that he wanted to move on after returning from his loan deal. He impressed enough in his short time at Swansea to have many Italian clubs chasing his signature, eventually joining Parma on a pre contract – and then Roma on loan in the same window. 9 Goals in 24 League games in his first spell back in Italy was a good return, but the summer window, again, meant another move for the Italian. Borini became Brendan Rodgers first signing as Liverpool manager, and began the season playing from the left wing. A goal in his first game at Anfield against FC Gomel in the Europa League looked to set him on his way. However, a broken foot in October and a dislocated shoulder in February meant that Borini missed a combined 5 months of the season, finishing a stop start season with a record of 20 games and 2 goals in all competitions. A major confidence boost, and a good run of fitness was needed for Borini. He had a point to prove, so a loan deal seemed just right.

A season-long loan deal with Sunderland was sealed, and finally a chance for regular first team action ensued. It didn’t take long for Borini to win the hearts of Sunderland fans. His first goal for the Black Cats came in the Tyne-Wear derby against Newcastle, leading his adopted club to a much needed 2-1 victory. In the League Cup, he scored a late equaliser against former club Chelsea, and then assisted an Extra Time winner by Ki Sung-Yeung. Cup goals against Manchester United and a fantastic opener in the League Cup Final against Manchester City; before eventually losing 3-1, followed. Borini then scored a massive goal in deciding the Premier League title – scoring a late penalty against Chelsea, all the while inflicting Chelsea’s first ever home defeat under Jose Mourinho. Sunderland then secured their Premier League status as Borini scored against fellow strugglers Cardiff and West Brom, and then against Swansea on the final day of the season. By all accounts, his 10 Goals in 40 Games in all competitions for Sunderland was seen as a resounding success, and an example of how the loan system can be utilised for the better. The Italian’s efforts were recognised in Sunderland’s end of season awards as he won the Young Player of the Year award, and narrowly missing out on the Player of the Year award to goalkeeper Vito Mannone.

Borini scored for Liverpool in his first game back in a friendly against Shamrock Rovers. He has since declared his desire to remain at Liverpool, and Brendan Rodgers has seemingly confirmed that he has a future at the club, saying “I thought he was excellent (at Sunderland). With Fabio, it was a case of we had Sturridge and Suarez who I felt would play a lot of games.”

Finishing 2nd place in the League has more than secured Liverpool’s entry into the Champions League. The additional matches that this alone will entail, as well as the FA Cup and League Cup participation will mean that Brendan Rodgers’ squad will be stretched and strained all season. And while it looks like Liverpool will keep hold of their prized asset, and Daniel Sturridge’s strike partner; Luis Suarez, squad depth will be key next season.

I believe Fabio Borini will be a hugely important part of Liverpool’s squad next season. His loan spell has given him newfound confidence in himself, and also from his manager. His sharp instincts and endless energy could allow much needed respite to “SAS” next season. His versatility will also add to his first team chances, being capable of playing as a Striker or a Winger. With Liverpool looking at numerous defensive and attacking midfield options, expect Borini to feature regularly. Who knows, he could even have a rebirth similar to that of Jordan Henderson if he can stay injury free.

19 Year Old Manchester United fan from Northern Ireland with a keen interest in European Football. Lover of (almost) all sports. Aspiring football writer and trainee football coach. Keen follower of Borussia Dortmund since 2008. Can be found on twitter @CameronStrutt95.


Jack Wilshere’s injury shows why Arsenal shouldn’t renew his contract

The 26-year-old has been struck down by yet another injury.

Jake Jackman



Photo: Getty Images

Jack Wilshere will be pleased with the progress that he has made since returning to Arsenal from his loan spell at Bournemouth.

He was initially nothing more than a squad player that was out in the cold at international level too, but the midfielder worked hard to gain more game-time in North London.

Across all competitions, he has played more than 30 matches and his form earned him a call-up to the England squad.

It looked like he was getting a once-promising career back on track, but almost like clockwork, he has suffered an injury to set him back once again.

Gareth Southgate confirmed that he wouldn’t be travelling to the Netherlands for Friday’s match and the quotes were reported by Sky Sports.

“It is not a specific injury and over time they flare up and they need to settle down over a couple of days.

“We are hopeful it will settle down pretty quickly. It’s an ongoing problem and it’s not something new for him. He’s very disappointed not to be involved in the game.

“He’s trained well though but if you think about the journey he’s had in the last two years and his big injuries then he’s progressing really well.”

Although it is encouraging that it isn’t a serious injury, it is a reminder that Jack Wilshere remains a risk for both club and country.

(Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

It is difficult to build a team around a player that is susceptible to miss matches and the quote from Southgate is a worry as he refers to an ongoing problem.

Arsenal have had a difficult campaign and they will be planning a rebuild over the next 48 months as they transition away from the Arsene Wenger era.

They will have to make tough decisions on many players at the club and Wilshere’s future will be brought into focus over the next few weeks as his contract expires at the end of the season.

There have been numerous reports regarding contract talks between the two parties and there is hesitancy on both sides.

This latest injury suffered by Wilshere and the comments from Southgate referring to an ongoing problem show why it is Arsenal who need to end this association.

Wilshere can’t be relied on to stay fit and to feature prominently in a busy schedule. Arsenal will have ambitions of challenging at the very top of the game and will likely be involved in European competition every season. They need to have a squad of players that are reliable and the 26-year-old isn’t that.

Aside from that, Wilshere represents what Arsenal have become over the last decade. He is a player that had a lot of potential, but he has failed to fulfil it and been very inconsistent at the highest level. Of course, he isn’t to blame for the club’s problems, but he is also unlikely to offer the solutions.

This season has been a nice farewell campaign for him. It would have been sad if his Gunners’ career had ended after being shipped out on loan to Bournemouth.

He has returned to earn some of his credibility back, but the club need to move on and progress if they are to get back to the top of the English game.

A lot of contentious decisions will need to be made and the first should be the release of Jack Wilshere this summer.

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Manchester United

Why Jose Mourinho’s treatment of Luke Shaw has crossed the line

The Portuguese manager has been highly critical of Luke Shaw this season.

Rob Meech



Luke Shaw
Photo: Getty Images

The fractious relationship between Jose Mourinho and Luke Shaw plumbed new depths when the left-back was substituted at half-time in Manchester United’s FA Cup victory over Brighton & Hove Albion. The 22-year-old had been handed a rare opportunity to impress at Old Trafford but lasted only 45 minutes.

Speaking about Shaw in his post-match interview, Mourinho said: “Luke, in the first half, every time they came in his corridor, the cross came in and a dangerous situation was coming. I was not happy with his performance.”

The differences between the pair now appear to be irreconcilable. Shaw, who was signed by Louis van Gaal in the summer of 2014, has been used sparingly by Mourinho. The former Southampton starlet has made just 18 Premier League appearances under the Portuguese in a career that has been blighted by injuries.

Being substituted at half-time is almost as embarrassing as it gets for a player and Shaw’s mood will not have improved after being publicly criticised by his manager. It’s certainly not the first time Mourinho has chosen to talk candidly to the media about his concerns with the 22-year-old.

(Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Some players require an arm around the shoulder to perform at their peak, while for others it takes a kick up the backside. Mourinho, opting for the latter, does nothing without reason and has clearly tried to spark a reaction from Shaw, without success.

From being one of English football’s brightest prospects after making his World Cup debut aged just 18, Shaw, who has seven England caps to his name, is in danger of not fulfilling the potential that convinced United to spend what was then a world-record fee for a teenager.

Mourinho’s tactic of singling out individuals who have not met his standards is in stark contrast to Sir Alex Ferguson, who never blamed his players in public. It has divided opinion among pundits, with Southampton legend Matt Le Tissier claiming the United manager is ‘destroying’ Shaw.

Mourinho is an expert at using smokescreens to distract from his side’s unconvincing performances. And this latest controversy has moved the narrative on from United’s shock Champions League exit at the hands of Sevilla.

(Photo by Lindsey Parnaby/Getty Images)

Tough love is one thing, but the sustained, public attack on Shaw is unacceptable. If Mourinho genuinely believes he is not good enough to represent United, then fair enough. But to continually vilify the youngster’s performances is a step too far and one that could irreparably damage Shaw’s confidence.

This is not to say that Shaw is a completely innocent bystander. Mourinho’s predecessor, Louis van Gaal, also questioned his desire and general conditioning when he joined United four years ago. Indeed, the Dutchman signed Shaw up to a tailored exercise regime in an effort to improve his fitness.

But while van Gaal’s treatment had the desired effect, Mourinho’s has done the opposite. Being publicly humiliated on a routine basis does neither party any favours.

In all likelihood, Shaw’s disappointing United career will come to an end this summer. A fresh start away from the toxicity under Mourinho is exactly what he needs.

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English Premier League

Keanan Bennetts has perfect opportunity to impress Mauricio Pochettino this week

The left-sided star has a chance to impress in first-team training during the international break.



Photo: Getty Images

With the international week in full flow, plenty of teams in the Premier League have seen their squads diminished by call-ups to national teams.

Tottenham Hotspur are one such side. Nonetheless, with most of the first-team squad away with their respective nations, work continues at Hotspur Way.

In order for Spurs to have a full complement in training, plenty of young talent needs to be pulled in to the ranks.

Mauricio Pochettino will, therefore,e get a chance to see some of his young players training with regular first-team players such as Fernando Llorente, Erik Lamela and Lucas Moura.

(Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

One player who will be training with the first-team this week is talented wide-man Keanan Bennetts, according to London Live.

The 19-year-old left-winger has been catching the eye for the club’s youth team in recent weeks, making the news after scoring a fantastic goal for the under-19s against Monaco in the UEFA Youth League last month.

Bennetts has also been attracting interest for his positional dexterity. The wide-man has played at left-back in recent times and it could be that is his future best position.

This week he will be up against some excellent players such as Lamela and Moura, who did not receive selection to the Argentina and Brazil national teams, respectively.

If he can prove himself with this calibre of player, Pochettino will have to take notice.

(Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

It is coming to a point in his Tottenham career when Bennetts has to make such an impact. The teenager is out of contract at Spurs in the summer and needs to ensure he is kept on for at least one more season.

Tottenham fans who follow the youth teams are certain he is deserving of such a chance. If he can show Pochettino what he is capable of this week, then a new deal will surely be in the pipeline for the talented wide-man.

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