Birmingham City are reportedly about to revive their interest in Diego Fabbrini, Watford’s Italy international forward.
Fabbrini opted to join Middlesbrough over Birmingham in the summer, feeling he could not turn down the chance to work with Aitor Karanka, Jose Mourinho’s assistant coach at Real Madrid. He sparkled and shone while the sun was shining, earning him the nickname of Maradona by teammate Albert Adomah.
“That’s my nickname for him,”Adomah told the Gazette. “Diego is so skilful, and if you give him a chance he’s so clever and will create chances for the team.”
Yet Fabbrini’s form dropped off once the leaves started to fall off trees and he last started a league game on November 7 in the 3-0 defeat against Hull City. He started the FA Cup third-round tie against Burnley, scoring in the 2-1 defeat to Sean Dyche’s Burnley but has not featured at all since.
Boro want to increase their attacking options as Cristhian Stuani. Nineteenth-place Fulham have scored more goals than Boro who have only found the back of the net five times more than fourth-bottom Rotherham. Ross McCormack is their prime target and, given the fact he cost Fulham £11m from Leeds United, they will have to make considerable room in the budget for his arrival.
Fabbrini could be the one to make way and Birmingham would bite Watford’s hand off if the opportunity arose to sign him again. Gary Rowett is a huge admirer of Fabbrini and described missing out on the player in the summer as like being rejected in a nightclub.
“We spoke to Watford about [signing Fabbrini], there was us and Middlesbrough,” Rowett told the Birmingham Mail. “We felt at one point we had a real chance of getting him. I spoke to Diego but after speaking to him it seemed clear that his mind was set on going to Middlesbrough. The chance to perhaps have a quicker route to the Premier league was maybe in his mind. That was the situation but I genuinely felt we had a really good chance [of signing him]. I think we were encouraged to do that by Watford, but in the end it was probably just a chance of Middlesbrough being able to offer something financially more attractive. Using an analogy, if you were in a nightclub at 2am in the morning and you kept getting knocked back, there’d be quite a few blokes who’d go and get a pizza and go home.”
As talented and likeable as he is – he was one of the real characters during pre-season – he does not figure anywhere in the plans of Quique Sanchez Flores. Boro could terminate the loan and allow Birmingham to negotiate their own deal and seven-figure loan fee with Watford or strike their own deal with Boro with the permission of Scott Duxbury, Watford’s chief executive. Fabbrini is contracted to Watford until the summer of 2017.
Watford fans were never quite convinced by Fabbrini or saw the best of him but Blue Noses adore him following his five-game spell at St Andrew’s last season.
“He lit the place up, to be fair,” Lloyd Dyer told us in the summer “He was awesome down there, they loved him. He’s a nice guy.”