Saturday October 5 2013
El Shaarawy must stay

If Milan are serious about promises to construct a great team with a policy for young players, then they should not sell Stephan El Shaarawy, writes Frank Tigani.

“We want to build a great squad with young players,” proclaimed President Silvio Berlusconi following the sales of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva along with the exodus of veterans last summer. It was a complete change in direction and policy for Milan, a club that for so long had welcomed the world’s best players through its doors. No longer was this going to happen.

Understandably, the new ‘youth policy’ had many worried about the club’s future. A mock funeral was even staged by a group of fans outside the club’s headquarters in Via Turati. The fans’ concerns were justified as the season started. Results were disastrous and following Milan’s defeat away to Udinese – their third loss in just five games – they were left sitting just above the relegation zone. But amid the calamity in Udine, there was a silver lining in the shape of Stephan El Shaarawy.

The then 19-year-old scored with a wonderful strike and though it was not enough to save his team that day, it was a boon to his confidence and the first of many to come. In the following round he scored a brace against Cagliari to deliver Milan a priceless three points. The goals then really started to flow; one against Parma, the winner against Genoa, a late equaliser in Palermo, another double this time against Napoli, a winner against Atalanta and a crucial Derby equaliser against Inter.

El Shaarawy finished the season with 16 goals, many of them important ones. While the goals did dry up in the second half of the term after Mario Balotelli arrived, there was still no doubt about it - il faraone saved Milan’s season. Just where they would have been without him is a scenario too scary to ponder.  The young striker showed that Milan really could remain competitive with a younger and less experienced team.  That there was real reason after all to trust in youth.

Over the summer El Shaarawy was deservingly given a new contract and his wages were doubled. Yet, as a result of his impressive displays last season inevitably potential suitors began to emerge. Manchester City were hot on his tail as were Real Madrid. But after a meeting with Adriano Galliani, the club and player decided their future was together.

Milan’s best player last season, along with Balotelli, the two forwards have come to represent the ‘new’ Milan – one built around young players that are really capable of forming part of a “great” side.  Yet, recent decisions by the club seem bound to marginalise the young Pharaoh’s role.

Following a summit involving Berlusconi, Galliani and Allegri before the campaign, the decision to revert back to a 4-3-1-2 was made. While El Shaarawy has insisted, “I can play in more positions, either as an out-an-out striker or second striker”, having shone so bright and with his abilities best suited to a wide attacking role, it begged the question as to where does he fit in now?

The club’s moves in the summer transfer market do not bode well either for the young Italian. Kaka has returned and most likely he will be the automatic choice to play in behind the strikers. Alessandro Matri was snapped up too.  Along with Giampaolo Pazzini and Robinho, there are four strikers who when all fit will by vying for the one spot alongside Mario Balotelli. In addition, reports have suggested that Keisuke Honda is set to arrive at the club in January.

In part due to these decisions, speculation has continued into the new season about the striker’s future. Tottenham, Arsenal and Paris Saint-Germain are all reportedly interested now too. With El Shaarawy’s status as Milan’s most sellable player with a market value of over €30m, everything seems to suggest that the starlet could be on his way out.

And what a shame it would be. Not only would Milan be losing one of Italy’s most promising youngsters while continuing on with the likes of Matri and Pazzini, but it would also show that the club are not all that serious about their new youth policy and the plan to use it to once again make Milan great.

Read more from Frank Tigani @ The Divine Ponytail

Keep up to date with the latest news and action from Spain's Primera Division with Football Espana - from the team behind Football Italia.

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Have your say...
Stephan's goal vs Inter was not an equaliser. It actually put Milan into the lead. With so many schoolboy fact errors on these blogs, I do wonder just how much football these so called experts watch.
on the 11th October, 2013 at 1:11pm
Iv said it once and il say it again.. viktor has no idea about football. Best just ignore him and let him have a discussion with himself. He might accuse you of being racist or worse try and tell us pirlo and beckham are the same again!!!!
on the 6th October, 2013 at 1:50pm
Can't believe people are saying he's over rated he basically carried Milan until christmas and did no one see how he played against Barcelona? Yes he's lost he's form, but leaving Italy would be a massive blow to the national side, purely because the link up play that could develop over this sesson with balo and monto
on the 5th October, 2013 at 10:39pm
@Sam if he "is not that talented" please tell me why he was signed by a massive club like AC Milan?. Why he is an ever present in an hugely talented Azzurri squad?
And please explain why teams like Arsenal, Man City, Chelsea, PSG and Real Madrid all showed interest in the summer?
People are very fickle, its all about "what have you done for me lately", he's not had great form recently...but this guy last season at 19 years old was dragging a European superpower single handidly for months on end.
on the 5th October, 2013 at 9:41pm
I've watched Italian football. For decades. Football in general, for decades. Wrote books, compiled youth talent lists. I've seen it all. El shaarawy is not that talented. Even in his youth at genoa and under 17 Italy days i never saw this "talent". He's overachieved at this point. Even when he had his purple patch of goals a while back i never saw anything , skill-wise that would be irreplaceable.
on the 5th October, 2013 at 8:30pm
Milan seem to be all over the place right now, both on & off the pitch. I'd much rather they persevere with the youth approach. IMO Kaka & Matri were unnecessary signings. The money from Kaka's wages & Matri's transfer fee should have gone towards improving the defence. I am disappointed that Petagna was shipped out & that Allegri hasn't given Cristante a game yet.
on the 5th October, 2013 at 8:06pm
@Mustafaaa...if you don't think El Shaarawy has great technique- go and watch his goal away at Napoli last season. That goal was technique personified.
on the 5th October, 2013 at 7:50pm
El Shaarawy is a fantastic player. Great article, absolutely loved the point of view. He is also a lifelong Milan fan, so that makes it a shame and a shame if he were to be sold.
on the 5th October, 2013 at 7:49pm
I hope for the sake of the club allegri goes to save players like SES. The man is absolutely clueless and will end ruining the young talent. Milan should be looking to play something like

monto----de jong


on the 5th October, 2013 at 7:29pm
@ Viktoria

A grudge? Your stupidity must've gone so far out of the universe. Say some sense or shut your mouth. As far as Prandelli is concerned, he at some point had Gabbiadini, and I don't see SES has more to offer than the likes of Insigne or Giovinco.

Stamina? Yes, Technique? Have a lollipop.

A 30 Million value? So? Marqinhos had more than that, I think that makes him best defender in the world according to your logic.

Lastly, I'm not your son.
on the 5th October, 2013 at 7:02pm

Get you fact straight. There 9th( which is awful) but definitely not last 3 spot.
on the 5th October, 2013 at 5:53pm
If you have a poor defensive unit your forwards have to work defensively or you will lose in a competitive competition and this makes El Shaarawy Milan's most important player & Milan need him fit quick or they may be in big trouble and Allegri could be out of a job very soon. Milan do not need to sell anyone as the wage is low and the income is very good. They sold Kaka etc in the past because he earnt crazy money and Milan had big debts. They now have no-one on big money and certainly not SES.
on the 5th October, 2013 at 5:49pm
Milan generally have average players who need protection so the 4-3-3 is the only formation that will keep Allegri in a job longer than afew weeks. The 1-2 in the 4-3-1-2 end up doing no defensive work and the average players get exposed and Milan concede like Bologna and Torino & Milan win no games.Matri and Robinho are players who would not look out of place the 'Pro Lega', so El Shaarawy when fit plays as he always does.
on the 5th October, 2013 at 5:43pm
@mustafa Ps. He has a market value of 30 millions. So much for below average player. 
on the 5th October, 2013 at 5:31pm
Milan have played 4-3-1-2 in afew matches but it suits none of Milan's players and they win no games at all and are currently close to the bottom 3. They have to play 4-3-3 as happened last season or they will end up relegated if they play 4-3-1-2 for long.Milan got battered by Torino when they tried kaka as he his over the hill and cannot help defensively. Matri is useless as is robinho. the 4-3-1-2 leaves milan exposed with no cover.el shaarawy is certain to start when not injure as always do.
on the 5th October, 2013 at 5:30pm
@mustafa Lololol still trying to hold a grudge on the super talent ses eh? It won't work son, everyone likes him except for you. It's obvious your jealousy is immense. Ses is 22 had pace, stamina and technique like very few players at that age. He's below average players? Interesting so what your saying is " I know more about football then prandelli" since prandelli praises him and your trash talk him. Insigne veratti, ses and balo is tr future. Deal with it.
on the 5th October, 2013 at 5:29pm
I am inclined to agree with Setters10. Moratti's move to sell Inter is sure to benefit the club in the long-term, giving them more financial clout to purchase top-level players, and possibly even their own stadium at some point. Perhaps Berlusconi should consider a similar move, but it doesn't look like he will.
on the 5th October, 2013 at 5:23pm
In some ways, this season is more upsetting than the previous. The results last term were dire, but there was at least some dim hope that maybe things would get better, once the team had had enough time to gel together. Now, the alleged youth policy appears to have been put aside. El Shaarawy, Niang, Petagna, Christante, Saponara and Vergara have all been marginalised. If youth was still the focus I would be more optimistic, but this Milan plays like a patchwork abomination.
on the 5th October, 2013 at 5:17pm
Its sad. Its depressing. Its inevitable. El Shaarawy at some point in the next 2 years will be sold, its where Milan are these days. To be fair to him he probably wont want to leave, he has said so himself during the summer he wants to stay. Unfortunately very similar words were spoken by Kaka and Thiago Silva before their departures to mega-rich clubs.

As sad as it is to see Moratti selling Inter, hes doing it for the long term benefit of the club...something Berlusconi may want to consider.
on the 5th October, 2013 at 4:47pm
Stop this hype with El Shaarawy. He's a below average over-rated player. Say what you say about him. You all seeing how the likes of Insigne and Verratti developed and making progress of their careers. You all praised him when he was top scoring a Serie B like team, but them what ? Never stepped up his game, never shone on a single big match.

And by the way, he is an attacking-flank midfielder, not a striker. so stop playing him as a striker.
on the 5th October, 2013 at 4:27pm

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