SUNDERLAND officials will discuss personal terms with Fabio Borini over the weekend after Liverpool accepted an improved offer for the striker this evening.
After a lengthy period of negotiations, the Anfield club finally agreed to a package that could eventually be worth £14m, although it is understood that the initial fee for the deal is closer to the £10m mark.
Having previously rebuffed a number of advances for Borini, Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has finally been persuaded to sanction the departure of the Italian, who spent last season on loan at the Stadium of Light.
Sunderland officials still have to agree the financial aspects of the deal with Borini and his representatives, but they are fully aware of what the 23-year-old is currently earning and would not have pushed things this far if they did not believe they could strike an agreement reasonably quickly.
Crucially, while Borini had previously talked of remaining at Liverpool in an attempt to win a regular place in the first team, sources on both Wearside and Merseyside claim the striker has altered his stance significantly in the last week or so.
With Rodgers offering no indication that Borini would form part of his plans for next season despite the departure of Luis Suarez, the forward has rapidly warmed to the idea of a permanent move to Sunderland, where he enjoyed considerable success last season.
Borini scored ten goals during his loan spell, a tally that included memorable strikes against Newcastle, both home and away, Manchester City, in the Capital One Cup final, and Chelsea, in the remarkable win at Stamford Bridge in the final month of the season.
Sunderland boss Gustavo Poyet always wanted to re-sign him, and the Wearsiders’ failure to sign a player for money so far this summer is in part a reflection of their desire to retain a significant portion of their budget in the hope that Borini would become available.
News of the agreement with Liverpool will be warmly welcomed by Sunderland’s supporters, who were growing increasingly anxious at the lack of transfer activity with the start of next season now just a month away.
With talks planned for the weekend, it is hoped that Borini will have arrived in time to take part in the club’s training camp in the Algarve later this month.
In the meantime, Sunderland kick off their pre-season programme with a trip to Bishop Auckland’s Heritage Park tomorrow to take on Darlington, with Costel Pantilimon, Billy Jones and Jordi Gomez all expected to make their first appearance for the club at some stage.
Gomez moved as a free agent after his previous contract at Wigan Athletic expired, and after rebuffing competing interest from the likes of Leicester City and Aston Villa, the Spaniard claims Poyet’s preferred playing style was one of the key factors behind his decision to move to the North-East.
“I wasn’t going to go to a team that plays long balls,” said Gomez. “I always want to play for a team where the manager plays a little bit more football, so I’m really happy to come here. The manager has similar ideas and the style is like we had at Swansea and Wigan.
“After Wigan, I really wanted to play in the Premier League again. I have the chance now, so I will take it. I spent one year in the Championship, and although we tried to get back the next season, we couldn’t.”
Tomorrow’s friendly should also mark the comeback appearance of Steven Fletcher, who was forced to sit out the final 11 games of last season after damaging his ankle ligaments in March’s goalless draw at Crystal Palace.
The Scotsman has played a full part in the opening two weeks of pre-season training, and is hoping for an injury-free campaign as he looks to get his career back on track.
“It would be nice to stay injury free for the full season, so touch wood that I can because last year was very frustrating,” said Fletcher. “It’s been a hard week, but I’m glad to be back and it’s good to be training again, especially because I was out for so long last season.”