Italian Serie A News, Results, Analysis and Features on Football Soccer

Luca Cetta On April - 6 - 2012

The Borriello Conundrum

As Juventus helped secure a piece of their long-term future during the week by extending the contracts of Leonardo Bonucci and Alessandro Matri until 2017, the immediate future of another player has once again been called into focus after yet another less than impressive display on the weekend.

Marco Borriello led the two man attack alongside Mirko Vucinic in Antonio Conte’s 3-5-2 system against Napoli, yet did little to endear himself to the Juventus Stadium faithful. Beside one half chance conjured by an Andrea Pirlo cross in which the former Roma striker failed to connect – with pleas for a penalty due to a pull of the shirt by Christian Maggio – he was rarely threatening.

Borriello battled industriously, but substitute Fabio Quagliarella – as well as Alessandro Del Piero later – managed to do more in 20 minutes than Borriello contrived in his 70 minute showing. He was well shackled by Paolo Cannavaro, turned the ball over, was caught offside and was never really an outlet for Juve to utilise. Borriello’s display brought about a chorus of whistles after misplaced passes and when he was taken off. Conte backed his player afterwards, stating, “He’s got great talent, if he was here since June he’d show his qualities.”

It continued a pattern of ineffective displays since Borriello’s move from the capital in January. Starting four Serie A matches – versus Catania, Milan, Bologna and Napoli – as well as two in the Coppa Italia – versus the Giallorossi and Rossoneri – the former Italian international has failed to net in any of his ten appearances, nor lay off an assist.

All in all, it adds fuel to the fans fire toward a player they never really wanted. After reportedly rejecting a move to Turin at the start of last season, Borriello eventually made the switch 18 months later on loan with an option to make the deal permanent in June. Fans responded with a banner which read, ‘Borriello: mercenary without honour or dignity’.

Conte has stuck by him from the start, attempting to diffuse the situation after that banner was unfurled, noting: “Borriello is to all intents and purposes a Juventus player and I think he explained that he never actually ‘rejected’ this move last year. The Bianconeri simply didn’t have the funds to offer a permanent deal at the time and the player and Milan preferred to send him to Roma, but he did not reject Juve. Only a madman could reject this jersey.”

Despite Conte’s insistence last Sunday, it is hard to see exactly what Borriello provides this Juventus side. In need of a clinical scorer, he has offered little in that regard. Perhaps the player - who has shown in the past with the ball at his feet, he can hold off defenders and bring others into play - is better suited to a 4-3-3 formation. Borriello has mostly featured in matches Conte has chosen his other main formation; indeed only at Bologna did Borriello start in a three man attack. Possibly that is what he needs as it allows for players on either side. It is the type of attack Borriello led with aplomb at Genoa in 2007/08 when he netted 19 goals in 35 matches.

Whatever the issue, Borriello needs to work fast to turn the situation around, with numerous reports in recent weeks stating Juve will decline to take up the option to sign the player on a permanent basis, sending him back to Rome where he does not figure in Luis Enrique’s plans.

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