SUNDERLAND will have to pay more than £10m to take Fabio Borini back to the Stadium of Light this summer on a permanent basis.
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers is in no rush to offload Borini until he has examined the progress he has made during pre-season when it begins in July.
But if an interested club comes in with an offer in excess of the £10.5m paid to Roma for him in July 2012 then the Reds could be willing to cash in.
Borini is high in Gustavo Poyet’s thinking but he would be reluctant to invest a large slice of his transfer budget on just one player this summer, regardless of how well he did on loan last season.
The 23-year-old scored ten goals during his nine months on Wearside, seven of those were from his 25 Premier League starts, and such form has led to Liverpool believing he is worth in the region of the sum they paid for him.
Such a stance has led to the suggestions that Adam Johnson could be used as a makeweight in the deal, although Liverpool have other options in mind ahead of him despite an interest.
Rodgers is desperate to add at least one winger to his squad before the start of next season and Southampton are looking for in excess of £25m for a winger who has travelled to Brazil with England’s World Cup squad.
Lallana is very much the priority at this stage, but there are alternatives in mind with Bayern Munich’s Swiss international Xherdan Shaqiri, Manchester City’s James Milner, Barcelona’s Alexis Sanchez and Benfica’s Lazar Markovic all under serious consideration at Anfield.
Rodgers has previously been interested in Dnipro’s Yevhen Konoplyanka, although Johnson would cost a lot less than all of those players which could yet appeal to the Liverpool boss.
Johnson, 26, missed out on a World Cup call this summer and he had hoped his move to Sunderland in 2012 from Manchester City would have improved his international chances because of more first team football.
The move closer to his Easington-roots has not gone according to plan so far, although he showed in January and February just how effective he can be in the Premier League when he finds top gear.
Rodgers is understood to have admired Johnson’s ability since his days as Chelsea’s youth team and reserve team manager, when the North-East talent was a key part of Middlesbrough’s academy system.
There has been talk of Liverpool’s Merseyside rivals Everton being interested in taking Johnson on loan, but Sunderland – who are not interested in signing Newcastle target Bafetimbi Gomis - would not feel the benefit of such a deal and would still have to find a replacement.
Sunderland, meanwhile, are set to have a new analyst next season. Carlisle United’s Chris Blake, 27, has left the Cumbrians’ youth set-up to take on an Under-21s role at the Stadium of Light. He has previously had a short spell working at Sunderland.