FABIO BORINI has already emerged as a scorer of important goals for Sunderland, but the Italian now wants to prove himself as a prolific goal machine before returning to Liverpool in the summer.
His performances on Wearside have attracted interest from clubs in his Italian homeland before discussions about extending his stay in the North-East have even been brought up.
Borini is in no rush to think about the summer either and is keen to build on an encouraging start to life under Gus Poyet at the Stadium of Light.
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The 22-year-old, who has been operating a winger rather than a striker, wants to increase his return in front of goal to help Sunderland stay in the Premier League, even if that reminds parent club Liverpool of the sort of ability which persuaded Brendan Rodgers to pay £10.5m to Roma in July 2012.
“I will finish my season here and then after that I will got back to Liverpool because that is my contract,” said Borini.
“Things are written on paper so that’s the thing. The aim here first is to stay up, not go down.
“It would be nice to go back there as a Premier League player and to have shown them that even in a hard situation, instead of winning every week, that I can do well.”
Borini’s first season at Anfield was rocked by injury, restricting him to just five league starts as he struggled to impress.
The switch to Sunderland has presented him with an opportunity to not only regain his match sharpness but prove he can achieve in English football.
He said: “The first objective of the season was to get on the pitch every week. I still have objectives to achieve, like scoring more goals.
“To play in the big teams like Liverpool, you don’t just need to perform well. As a striker you need to score goals. That’s the next step. As a striker you can perform well, but at the end of the season people count your goals.
“I needed to prove to myself first that I can play here because I have never had a long spell playing in England. I have always been in England but I have never had a long run of games. At Swansea I only had 12 games, Liverpool not so long because of injuries and Chelsea I was a substitute a few times.”
After a slow start to his loan to Sunderland he has adapted well. He might only have scored three times, but all of them have been important. As well as the winner against Newcastle United, he found the net in Capital One Cup ties against Chelsea and Manchester United.
Such goals, and his work-rate, ahead of this Saturday’s visit of Southampton have led to supporters taking to him – and he is enjoying his time with the Black Cats.
“I like the lifestyle here, the people and the stadium,” said Borini. “Football is huge. I like it here. I can relax when I go home and I don’t have to stress about being seen or stopped by people. I can live a normal life.
“It’s nice when you get to the stage when you lose or win that people are still happy to see me. That helps my confidence stay high.”
Borini could be joined on the Academy of Light training ground by another new face this week with talks at an advanced stage over the signing of defender Santiago Vergini.
The 25-year-old is due in the North-East to finalise a loan deal until the end of the season from Estudiantes.
It has been reported that Sunderland will pay an initial £450,000 and a further £200,000 if the move becomes permanent in the summer.
Vergini’s arrival is likely to lead to the departure of Valentin Roberge. The 26-year-old only joined in July from Maritimo but his future hangs in the balance this month.
Roberge was one of 14 new recruits made by director of football Roberto De Fanti but there has been interest from Europe in the centre-back and Poyet is looking to adjust his squad.
* Sunderland have been boosted by the news that they will be backed by 9,000 away fans in next Wednesday’s Capital One Cup semi-final second leg at Old Trafford.
The Wearsiders are providing free coach transport to and from the game. Any supporter in possession of a valid match ticket can take advantage of the complimentary buses departing from the Stadium of Light on the afternoon of the game.
Supporters wishing to use the free official transport must reserve their place by noon on Saturday, January 18.