AC Milan are in the market for a benchwarmer to backup Andre Silva and anyone else that Milan bring in during the summer. With Carlos Bacca and Gianluca Lapadula set to depart, Silva needs support - and that support needs to be greater than, or equal to the abilities of Bacca or Lapadula.
Enter Fabio Borini.
Borini was a surprise target for Milan - and not because he’s out of of their league, but mainly because nobody really fancied him. Outside of Sunderland, the striker isn’t well known - and that’s mainly because of his inability to make any kind of impact on the football pitch. Borini has been mocked because of his lack of goals, but there’s more to a forward than simply putting the ball in the back of the net - if that was the case, we’d be happy keeping Bacca! Sunderland had an awful year in the Premier League, but even then, Borini didn’t stand out. Milan’s move for the striker is strange - but let’s see what sense we can dig out of it, and see if it’s worth replacing Bacca and Lapadula with Borini, who would cost Milan around €5 million in transfer fees. We’ll line up Borini against the current Rossoneri strikeforce, but we’ll also add in Andrea Belotti, who will set the benchmark of what we expect from our forward signings. It’s worth noting that Borini played more minutes, yet less games than Gianluca Lapadula - so take that into account.
Surprisingly, Borini seems to be more effective at making things happen than Bacca or Lapadula, all though Lapadula would be the more accurate of the bunch. Fabio matches the passing output of both Lapadula and Bacca - with around 15 key passes in less games than the Milan pair. This is a fairly decent sign and through the course of a full season, you’d expect him to be better at laying off the ball than these two. This pales in comparision to Andre Silva though, who doubled Borini’s output in just eight more games. What’s more Milan’s main target, Andrea Belotti, racked up 48 key passes over the course of a season. If Borini wanted to match that - he’d need 50 league games, which is impossible in the course of a season.
In terms of shooting, Borini doesn’t stand a chance. Without Jermain Defoe, Sunderland struggled to break down the majority of the defences in the Premier League and this has hampered Borini quite a bit. Fabio had 33 shots through 24 games. He only found 19.5 matches of full game time though, so this is about 1.37 shots a game. Belotti ranks in at almost four shots a game, Silva three and Lapadula and Bacca racking up 1.63 and 1.75 respectively. Borini may have suffered because he was a Sunderland player, but you’d expect him to at least be able to match the output of Bacca, who had a bad year. Borini mirrored Carlos Bacca with take-ons, being successful almost sixty percent of the time. Bacca was lazy, but when he got the ball, he could certainly take on a player or two - it’s good to see that Borini can do the same.
One area where Borini excelled was in his defensive game. He’d clock in an interception per game, which could be deadly for a striker (if they were able to take advantage of it, Borini clearly cannot). Taking advantage of defensive errors is key - though Borini’s stats might be inflated because he was playing for a team which would give the ball away a lot - interceptions and defensive stats can get boosted when teams get stuck in when they are under the cosh. Borini battered Belotti, Silva, Bacca and Lapadula in many defensive areas, but his 22 interceptions double Belotti’s 11 and overshadow the defensive might of Bacca and Lapadula, who racked in 1 and 2 respectively. This might hint at some kind of work rate existing in Borini, who also won 40% of his aerial contests against Premier League defenders - which is not shabby at all, and better than Bacca and Lapadula.
Overall, the image we get from Borini is a striker, who on the face of it seems a hard worker - but lacking in any sort of ability. His inability to find the net is telling, but there is some promise in his work-rate and ability to take on defenders. While it is worth replacing Bacca with Borini, one might question replacing Lapadula with him. Lapadula, who offered more in less minutes. However, if Borini is cheaper than Lapadual, there’s a lot to be gained from having the Italian as a backup to the impressive Andre Silva. Worryingly, the positive reaction of Borini’s potential departure by Sunderland fans shows that there’s more to this than the stats - and that Borini may have been a dire part of an awful Sunderland team.