Some say that a measure of a man is how he deals with adversity.
If you subscribe to that particular view, Fabio Borini has grown up a lot in the first half of the 2010-11 season.
The Italian Under-21 forward broke into Carlo Ancelotti’s first team squad last season, making eight appearances in his debut campaign. Labelled by some – including Ancelotti himself – as an interesting prospect, his second season amongst the big boys was supposed to see him kick on and make more of an impact.
Unfortunately, things haven’t exactly gone as planned. As many readers will be aware, Borini’s contract expires at the end of the current campaign, and an impasse has been reached in negotiations.
Talks with Gael Kakuta were equally fruitless for some time until the Frenchman agreed a new four-year deal last month, but no such finality has been found for Borini. Agent Marco De Marchi has spoken to the Italian media with some regularity about the process, and has revealed an uncomfortable situation.
For whilst Kakuta remained involved with Ancelotti’s squad during talks, Borini has been frozen out. The decision reportedly comes from higher up the ladder than the manager, who Fabio describes as a ‘great man’, and has been forced after he supposedly baulked at the short-term nature of the deal.
To his credit, Borini has knuckled down and worked as hard as anyone during the reserve team campaign this season, leading the scoring charts with seven goals. They have come in just four appearances, as he notched a remarkable haul of five in a nine-goal thriller away to West Brom.
Regularly captaining the side, his maturity has been present for all to see, whilst his predatory nature also resulted in goals against Everton and Liverpool with two excellent finishes early in the campaign.
Injuries have impacted upon his availability, ruling him out of three matches so far, and shortly before Christmas he underwent surgery to cure a long-term nagging shoulder problem.
That will keep him out until February, but he may no longer be a Chelsea player at that point.
Saturday saw him become able to negotiate a Bosman free transfer move with clubs outside of England, and whilst nothing official has been announced by any party, he has been linked with Parma for some time.
The Emilia club are believed to be keen on exploiting positive relations with former manager Ancelotti to get ahead of their competition (Lazio and Chievo are also interested), although the nature of any deal is up for debate.
Some sources suggest that he will join the Gialloblu on a permanent basis, whilst others have it as a loan with a view to a deal or a first option clause.
On his part, Borini – via De Marchi – is said to be keen on staying in England, having adopted a style more suited to the country since arriving as a sixteen year-old.
Whether that’s at Chelsea or elsewhere remains to be seen, but he’s shown great spirit in a time where things haven’t been as good as they were a year ago.