When Liverpool take on Udinese in the Europa League tonight at Anfield, one Italian desperate to impress will be Liverpool’s new striker Fabio Borini.
The 21-year-old became Brendan Rodgers first signing in the summer, but goals have been hard to come by thus far, netting just once in a Europa League qualifier against Belursian side FC Gomel in August.
Liverpool fans are not quite sure what to make of their new number 29, unsure whether he has been bought as a wide man or a central striker.
It seems Brendan Rodgers and perhaps even Borini himself also remain unsure.
He has been in and out of the side since his summer move, most often featuring on the right of a front three. During Liverpool’s recent draw with Sunderland he started as the central striker, and gave arguably his best performance since his summer move, looking a constant threat and only being denied his first Premier League goal by some fine goalkeeping.
During Liverpool’s recent 5-3 victory over Young Boys, he tipped the balance of play in Liverpool’s favour. With his side trailing 3-2, he came off the bench to play in that central striker role, and his hard work and movement caused all sorts of problems. Liverpool ran out 5-3 winners.
But when featuring in the wide positions Borini has struggled. In the home matches against Manchester City, Arsenal and Manchester United he was virtually anonymous, and was let down by his final ball or finish when in decent positions.
What you can say for the Italian is that he does not lack passion or confidence. He has been seeing geeing up the crowd at every available opportunity, and celebrates each goal his side score as if its the winner in a World Cup final.
He has come out this week and said he is confident his goal drought will end sooner rather than later, saying : “it is just a matter of time”.
Brendan Rodgers is convinced Liverpool have got themselves a top player who is only going to improve.
“He is a young player I know very well and over time he will only get better and better,” Rodgers said.
“He is a good kid who wants to work and there is no doubt over the coming years he will prove to be a very good player for the club.”
It will be interesting to see if Borini features in his favourite position as a central striker tonight, as Rodgers will look to shuffle his pack once more.
The pressure is on for Liverpool’s strikers to fire following the departure of Andy Carroll, with Luis Suarez currently thriving in his role as Liverpool’s main man.
However Borini needs to start chipping in sooner rather than later. Let us not forget he is only 21 years of age, and started slowly at Roma last season, before firing ten league goals in the second half of the campaign.
Rodgers needs to do all he can to help his young forward and give him a run in the side playing as a central striker. A first Premier League goal could open the floodgates, but it is unlikely to come soon if he is continues to be shafted out wide.
The Europa League campaign could be seen as a chance to really show what he can do, playing in his favoured position.
Playing against European teams without the physicality of a Premier League side could be the opportunity he needs to score some goals and gain further confidence.
There have been some encouraging signs to suggest Liverpool have got themselves a decent player for the future, which is what he should be seen as at present. Goals are what’s missing to prove they have a decent player for the present.
What do you think of Fabio Borini? Follow me on Twitter @LukeGreenwood89 and let me know your thoughts.