Reports in the media over the last few days have indicated that AC Milan striker Stephan El Shaarawy could be on his way out of San Siro, with Manuel Pellegrini the name most often linked with wanting to bring the 20-year-old to his new club Man City.
El Shaarawy has played a pivotal role for Milan since signing from Genoa in 2011, but struggled to find his best form in the second half of the season. Despite this, Milan CEO Adriano Galliani very publically defended the player, citing his goals as a primary source of help as Milan continued in the chase for a top three finish – a target in which they were ultimately successful.
However, Roberto La Florio, the player’s agent, said earlier in the week that it is a delicate time for El Shaarawy, and refused to comment on reports of a move, hinting that there could perhaps be some truth to the stories.
When all is said and done, El Shaarawy is far from hitting his peak as a player, and for someone to enjoy such a splendid reputation at such a young age is something most players aspire to, but not something many can actually achieve.
The Express reported that Pellegrini wants to take Isco from former club Malaga but is not interested in El Shaarawy, while a report the following day – again by The Express – implied that City should feel free to pursue their interest and make a bid for the Italian international.
Despite the report that Milan may be open to selling El Shaarawy, the feeling is that the Rossoneri would prefer to hang on to one of their prized assets, and Galliani has also reiterated the fact that no firm offer has yet been made for the player.
So are we likely to see El Shaarawy pulling on his football boots at the Etihad Stadium next season? With City’s strikeforce having failed to fire the club in the direction of retaining their Premier League crown, question marks have been raised. Rumours have also resurfaced that Carlos Tevez could be leaving the Blues, with some even suggesting that he could be making El Shaarawy’s move in reverse, with Milan said to be primed with a £10m offer.
This would surely pave the way for the former Legino youth player to link up with new City signings Fernandinho and Jesus Navas, but with Isco looking like he could be on his way to the club as well that may throttle immediate opportunities for a new striker at such an ambitious club.
If Isco were to be utilised in his natural attacking midfield role, allowing him to link up with Fernandinho in the middle and Navas out wide, surely El Shaarawy’s supply line would be one of the most efficient in the league. Assuming Tevez were to move in the other direction, City would only really have Sergio Aguero, Edin Dzeko and John Guidetti as recognised strikers in their first team, and as a result El Shaarawy would offer an abundance of additional firepower up front should City decide to plunge further into their pockets.
Couple this with the fact that, at only 20, and as previously mentioned presumably nowhere near his peak just yet, El Shaarawy would prove an exciting long-term investment at the very least – and his proven ability would render him unlikely to have to wait too long to be given his chance on the pitch.
Guidetti has had three loan spells away from City to gain vital experience, and none were more successful than his recent spell at Feyenoord, where he struck an astonishing 20 goals in 23 games – meaning that he is another player who seems to promise potential, and so the prospect of eventually pairing Guidetti and El Shaarawy as Man City’s long-term strike partnership must be utterly tantalising for new boss Pellegrini, assuming his initial interest in the Milan star proves to be fruitful.