Stephan El Shaarawy 21 Striker Milan Italy
2013 has been...
On the whole, disappointing. Very disappointing.
2012 was so good for the young striker; goals, man-of-the-match displays, international call-ups and he emerged as a genuine ray of light in a sea of largely red and black gloom in Milan. He was on the brink of something really special and earned a deserved grade B for a fantastic twelve months. So 2013 was to be his year to really push on, grab that place in the Italy first team for the long haul and keep walking the path marked ‘Superstar’.
But then came a tactical shunt out wide, the reality he couldn’t prop up those around him consistently at such a tender age and, of course, Super Mario’s return to Serie A. The move out wide dried up the goal scoring opportunities, the shadow cast by the circus that surrounds Balotelli proved difficult to emerge from and the form slowly ebbed away. While Balo started his Milan career in a whirlwind and has continued to give his all, even he has struggled to shoulder the burden of a stuttering team with Kaka’s help, and discontent is the default setting for those with Rossoneri-based leanings.
There’s been the odd moment that reminds you just what a talent El Shaarawy can be but he now appears to be a bit lost. Out of the Milan team and without a natural position therein anymore when he returns from injury imminently, on the fringes of the Italian squad in a World Cup year, the future’s suddenly very complicated for a striker we once thought would be busy tearing up Serie A about now.
A lot depends on what’s next for Milan in truth. He needs a manager to put an arm around him and encourage him back into form and fitness. He will have a part to play this season once he’s over a foot injury that’s kept him out since September, at the time of writing he has only just begun training again and how Milan would welcome back a Stephan El Shaarawy of the 2012 vintage right now.
The part he plays this season depends on the future of his manager. Right now Allegri remains in charge but that situation may not last until the New Year and to be honest, a fresh approach may be just what the striker needs to reinvent himself. There are suggestions that the biggest problem has been a mental one, a touch of the too much too soon maybe, but he does need to be able to adapt to playing wide in a front three for both his club and international ambitions.
There is far too much class about him for the last twelve months to be the default. We really want to see the swashbuckling form return and he’s more than capable of achieving it before the season’s end. Both club and country would benefit enormously from a happy El Shaarawy, we hope we get one before the World Cup in the summer but if not, we’ll wait. There is real talent within and this year will one day be written off as character building and no more. We can’t wait to see Milan with him in full flight again, the thought of Balotelli, Kaka, Robinho and El Shaarawy all in form and working together is enough to make us laugh like a giddy schoolchild on Christmas morning.
“Between Max Allegri's tactics & the arrival of Balotelli, El Shaarawy has struggled to continue the excellent form he showed at the start of 2012-13. However his touch, finishing & work rate are too good for that to continue & he should explode again very soon” – Adam Digby, ESPN
"Stephan El Shaarawy scored 16 goals in Serie A last season. However, only one was scored after Mario Balotelli joined Milan on January 29th." - Opta
D He may have gone backwards but we still believe. The mark may appear harsh but has to be measured against how good he was for the previous twelve months