Liverpool striker Fabio Borini has revealed why he snubbed a full-time move to Sunderland despite a successful loan spell on Tyneside last season.
The Italian netted 10 times for the Black Cats and with his future on Merseyside not looking particularly bright many believed Borini would make a permanent switch over the summer.
However, as Luis Suarez moved to Barcelona, Borini decided to stay on at Anfield and fight for his place.
Since then, thanks to the injury suffered by Daniel Sturridge and the unsatisfactory performances from Mario Balotelli and Rickie Lambert, Borini has had more opportunities with 13 appearances so far this season.
In an interview with the Liverpool Echo, the 23-year-old admitted he was surprised by the amount of time he has had on the pitch and is adamant he made the right decision for his future.
“I’ve never regretted staying here,” Borini revealed in an interview with the Liverpool Echo. “Yes, I could have left but I wanted to stay at Liverpool and I’m glad I did.
“To be honest, going back to last summer, I didn’t expect to play as much as I have done so far."
While Borini is yet to score for the Reds this season, the Italian believes his performances have been reasonable and says he has plans for a long-time stay at Liverpool.
“With Daniel Sturridge’s injuries, I’ve played more than I expected. I think I’ve done okay.
“I probably should have scored a couple of goals from the few chances I’ve had but I’m quite happy with my season so far.
“I won’t be leaving this month either. I started the last game and I don’t see any reason why I would need to change clubs. I see it as all positive for me.”
Liverpool's forgotten striker?
Indeed Borini has been seen by many as the forgotten man while Brendan Rodgers looks at his attacking options up front. With Balotelli and Lambert not producing the goods, the manager looked to convert winger Raheem Sterling into the main striker with his pace and movement rather than give Borini a stint as the front man.
However, as Sterling gained some rest and recuperation on holiday in Jamaica, Borini finally got his chance starting against Sunderland last weekend.
His performance was certainly no worse than Liverpool fans have seen from the other strikers this season and it would be interesting to see how Borini could operate alongside or just ahead of Sterling against Aston Villa on Saturday.
At the same time some had questioned whether Rodgers' overlooking of his fellow former Chelsea team member had been because of a lack of commitment on Borini's part.
However, he scoffed at those claims, replying that it was the prestige of playing for a team like Liverpool that saw him turn down offers elsewhere.
“The reason I said no to the clubs who wanted to sign me was that I wanted to play for a top four club,” he said. “I wanted to play in the Champions League and in the biggest European competitions. I don’t think you can blame any player for having that kind of ambition.
He also denied that money was a major factor in his decision to remain at Anfield, claiming if that was the case he would not be doing it on Merseyside.
“For me it was all about what I want to achieve in the future with my life.
“That’s why I decided to stay at Liverpool. I have no regrets. This is what I want.
“It was never about money. If that was my motivation then I would have left for Dubai and I’d be playing football over there.
“I never looked at money. It was only ever about football and my ambitions. I still believe I can be a success at Liverpool.”
His time is now
Indeed Borini claims this is his first true season with the club despite officially being his third on the books and he is keen to prove to Rodgers that he can be a part of his long-term plans.
“I’ve never had a full season here,” he said.
“In my first year here I was unlucky with injuries, I wasn’t able to really prove myself and then in the second year I went out on loan.
“This is really the season for me. Yes, I haven’t played much, I don’t know why, but that’s not up to me.
“I’m working hard every day to show the manager that I can help. I want to prove myself here.”
Should Rodgers give Borini time?
Whether or not Borini can make a name for himself at Anfield is very much dependent on how he continues to develop as a player, of course it is never easy to make an impact when most appearances are off the bench, but right now its hard to see him making an impression akin to the likes of Adam Lallana, Raheem Sterling and Philippe Coutinho in recent years.
The return of Daniel Sturridge is also going to be a potential hurdle for Borini to become a regular member of the starting XI, however, should Rodgers continue to largely overlook a young striker that could have the potential that Borini has then Liverpool can only really blame themselves if he went on to be a success elsewhere in the future.