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Thursday May 1 2014
World Cup Squad Selector: El Shaarawy

After an injury-hit season, Mark Siglioccolo assesses Stephan El Shaarawy’s chances of being more than a spectator in Brazil.

At just 21-years-young, Stephan El Shaarawy is considered by many to be the future of Italian football. This may well be Cesare Prandelli's master-plan as he prepares the starlet for Euro 2016 and beyond. Yet the fact that he has left the door open for a World Cup berth to a player who has featured on just seven occasions in all competitions for Milan this season remains a questionable decision.

Marcello Lippi showed huge faith in Francesco Totti on the eve of the 2006 World Cup and all but guaranteed him a spot, despite the Roma captain having suffered a broken left fibula in the months prior, which kept him out of action for three months.

Talented though El Shaarawy is, Francesco Totti he is not. Whilst Er Pupone had his detractors, he still scored a penalty to progress Italy to the quarter-finals and was the tournament's top assist maker with four. Would anyone expect such a contribution from a fully fit El Shaarawy?

Cesare Prandelli's fear appears to be that he does not have a viable foil for Mario Balotelli, who still looks the favourite to lead the line for the Azzurri. He may feel that because the two have operated together at club level, El Shaarawy may be that player. Yet statistics do not lie, and of the 16 goals that Il Faraone scored last season, just one of those came after Balotelli's midseason arrival.

Or perhaps, Prandelli is banking on El Shaarawy being a ‘big game’ player. His sole strike this season was a crucial away goal in Milan's first leg Play-off round against PSV Eindhoven. Likewise in last season's Champions League he scored twice and made one assist in eight appearances. A successful World Cup campaign lasts for seven matches, and just one goal or assist at a crucial time could be the difference between winning and losing the competition.

El Shaarawy has that in his locker. Not the fact that he is a pacey, tricky wing hugger, but the fact that he can look anonymous for large periods of a match and then put the ball in the back of the opponents’ net when everyone least expects it. His vision and passing ability is second to none when on his game and testament to his ability is the fact that he is still being courted by big clubs, despite barely having kicked a ball all season.

Milan Primavera Coach Fillipo Inzaghi, who is no stranger to injuries and has slowly been building the forward's fitness in time for the World Cup. Should El Shaarawy get the all clear, he will likely be in competition with Alessandro Diamanti, Alessio Cerci and Antonio Cassano. The Pharaoh has youth and hunger on his side, and whilst he has had few opportunities to shine for La Nazionale scoring just one in 10, from U-16 to U-21 he scored 12 in 36. We may yet see an Italian walk like an Egyptian in Brazil.

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Have your say...
My perfect squad would be.
Buffon, Sirigu, Perin
Chellini, Bonucci, Barzagli, Paletta, De Scilgio, Cristicio, Maggio.
Pirlo, De Rossi, Montolivo, Marchisio, Motta, Veratti, Insinge.
Balotelli, Rossi, Immobile, Cerci, Berardi, El Sharaawy.
on the 7th May, 2014 at 7:40pm
He could of been a suprised pick, but how can you bring him with the seasons Cerci,Immobile, Rossi and Insigne had. I would like to see him play 3 at the front with Cerci, Immobile and Insigne.
on the 6th May, 2014 at 10:52pm
The last 18 months have been poor for pharaoh, poor for italy at conf cup and then injured. Too many players on significantly better form and not good enough to go as a luxury. Not in my squad.
on the 3rd May, 2014 at 9:05am
He's played too little football for me, and his confidence issues have been well documented which could affect his form, so I wouldn't include him. He's one for the future, but he'll have stiff competition from the likes of Insigne and Beradi.
on the 3rd May, 2014 at 8:39am
I've been very impressed with Berardi: both this season & last. What he has achieved is quite remarkable. On the one hand, SES has had the advantage of playing with better players, but on the other, has had to contend with far greater pressure playing for Milan. I look forward to watching their development. It will be interesting to see where they play next season. The good news is that we are starting to produce more wingers/wide forwards.
on the 2nd May, 2014 at 8:03pm
@Maldini's Heir, you make a good point about the pressure. SES looked mentally exhausted by the end of last season, a bag of nerves. The only good thing about him being injured, is that it has taken the spotlight off him. I'm in 100% agreement with you in that he should have the summer off, get fit, work on his game & be ready for the start of next season. If he starts well, then we should talk about his inclusion for Italy.
on the 2nd May, 2014 at 7:56pm
Berardi and others wont be better than anyone. As the vital time, coaching and management is spent on waste of time players with an attitude, work ethic and mental problems.
Quality in form players whov spent all year improving scoring and giving 100% in every single game, easy or hard, who dont vanish against a big team, those players will be left at home to make way for hype and overated names who believe they are bigger than club and country!!!
on the 2nd May, 2014 at 6:58pm
He stopped scoring last season the min balotelli arrived, coz he was shifted out further to the left wing to make way for balotelli. Which kind of answers the question- he couldnt score or really be to effective with balo at milan so why diffrent for italy??
With balotelli having an automatic place it would be to risky to have a none scoring partnership- worrying as the most prolific partnership, cerci n immob, dont get a mention. Italy are based on names and hype not form and quality!
on the 2nd May, 2014 at 6:51pm
Berardi could end up being better than everybody (Immobile, Destro, Balotelli, etc) if his development continues. He is the complete package.
on the 2nd May, 2014 at 5:40pm
@ Daniel Giambrone and Viktor My own view of SES (and its really just a gut feeling) is that we shouldn't be expecting lots of goals from him. I think his burst of goals last season will end up being a blip. I would expect him to score between 10 - 15 goals a season and provide assists. Where I think his big strengths lie is in his pace and movement and the dynamism he brings to the game. I don't even want to see him beat people. His first time passing and link up play is what's impressed me.
on the 2nd May, 2014 at 1:49pm
@ viktor yes that's right Berardi is better and will have a better future I can guarantee that , he is the future start for italy I think he can be one of the best strikers in the world, and I'm not a juve fan, this guy has been hurt all season barely has played.
on the 2nd May, 2014 at 12:52pm
@Viktor ...look at the blogs it's not just me! A great player but he has been injured like forever and the season is nearly over. If fit and well should be considered for euros but not this wc. At last 10-20 more deserving players who have played well all year are a million miles ahead of him in the pecking order!
on the 2nd May, 2014 at 12:25pm
@Viktor, he may have scored a lot of goals that Autumn, but look at what happened after that! I did say that defenders had sussed him out. He would continually cut in from the left & then run into a cul-de-sac. There were so many opportunities for him to go down the line & take on the FB, yet he did the same thing over & over. He is way down my list ATM & he cannot live off that purple patch in 2012 forever.
on the 2nd May, 2014 at 9:37am
SES was good for half a season and then completely disappeared. Berardi was good for half a season and also mostly disappeared since January. Both players are technically gifted, but Berardi has more pace and height. Its close overall, but Berardi has more upside, two years younger, and hasn't gone through a major injury like SES already.

No chance Prandelli takes him over players like Cerci, Cassano, Immobile anyway. He needs guys who are fit and in game shape. Would be a really bad move.
on the 1st May, 2014 at 7:35pm
@MoE

Yes lets see who has a better market value, SES or Berardi.

That plain dumb saying Berardi would be better.
on the 1st May, 2014 at 6:48pm
He needs the summer off to fully recover and come back stronger next season. Taking him to the WC would be irresponsible and put far too much pressure on him.
on the 1st May, 2014 at 6:19pm
Should def be considered. He's a great finisher. 16 goals in first half of last season then had a drop after EGO balo came and got injured. Happened to TONS of players, getting injured doe

@dario

You know very little of football if you say he should no be considered in this blog.

@Al

Same goes for you. Juve fans always hate milan talent. Since the age of dawn.

@Daniel G\

"He is very predictable" really? How come he scored so many goals then??
on the 1st May, 2014 at 5:19pm
Zero chance with his injuries. And Immobile and Destro (plus Berardi) are better young talents. He had half a good season for Milan than completely disappeared. Has since been out…not even worth discussing.
on the 1st May, 2014 at 4:23pm
iam a huge El shaarawy fan.he is the best italian young player.he is a versatile player.capable of playing wing&second striker.pacy,tricky dribler he is far better than insigne that he scores goals.Prandelli keenly watching him in milans next 3 matches.it is imp for him.CT knows his ability.

in my view El shaa should go to Brazil.he is capable for doing in big stages.
on the 1st May, 2014 at 3:43pm
I would much rather see El Sha at the world cup than Osvald or Giacharini who Prandelli seems to love.
on the 1st May, 2014 at 3:27pm
If he gets fit in time, he should certainly be selected. He's very hungry to prove himself and he'll have fresh legs. He works very hard and always gives his all, and he has a lot of creativity and a very good shot and pass. All this at his young age!
on the 1st May, 2014 at 2:19pm
A year ago he'd have been a certainty.

Now?... No chance.

Cerci, Immobile, Balotelli, Destro, Rossi, Insigne are the 6 I'd bring with Cassano as their back-up for injuries.
on the 1st May, 2014 at 1:43pm
No way! He's been out of form & injured for almost 17 months. He does have a sweet right foot, is a good finisher & runs a lot; but his game lacks depth. He is very predictable & I believe that defenders have sussed him out. I don't blame Balotelli's arrival for his drop in form. Also, on a few occasions, CP has hinted that SES lacks mental strength (comparing him to Insigne). This could be a reason why he often lays off the ball instead of taking on players.
on the 1st May, 2014 at 1:26pm
I suppose it would be worth asking the question even the response is a straight out no. At this point i think prandelli is set for his 4 to 5 striking choices unless balotelli does something absolutely mind blowing to get his arse sat on the sofa for the summer watching the world cup on tv.
on the 1st May, 2014 at 1:21pm
Don't think he will go not enough playing time this season, but if he produces the form he showed last year in the remaining games of the season,who knows!!
on the 1st May, 2014 at 1:05pm
Absolutely not! Shouldn't even be thought of or be considered of going.
on the 1st May, 2014 at 1:03pm
No way! Have a year off think you can go to the World Cup I don't think so
on the 1st May, 2014 at 12:28pm
should not even be mentioned or considered in this blog....although he will have fresh legs!
on the 1st May, 2014 at 12:15pm

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