Sensational El Shaarawy – The Saviour of AC Milan
As those two superstars headed for pastures new in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower in search of even greater riches the opportunity arose for a younger crop of Rossoneri players to don the famous red and black strip and prove their worth and none have taken on the challenge and excelled in quite the way Stephan El Shaarawy has.
With such a load to bear in leading the strike force of a club like Milan, the twenty year old striker’s career could have gone one of two ways.
Being thrust into the spotlight so young could have potentially crushed the young player under the weight of expectation and the hype that he had built up since his debut at the age of sixteen when he appeared as a substitute for Genoa. However El Shaarawy’s career could have not gone down a more opposite path. He has thrived under the pressure and has simply flourished under playing time Allegri has handed his way. The performances of this future star have certainly been the brightest spark in this mixed Rossoneri season.
El Shaarawy’s name has been one of the first on Allegri’s team sheet this season and his contribution of goals is undoubtedly the reason for this. The Savona born striker has netted 10 goals in 14 games this campaign for Milan, a stat that many top strikers in Europe would long for.
With Alexandre Pato still absent from the first team picture and Giampaolo Pazzini, the second highest scorer on the team, on a total of five, including a hat trick against Bologna, goals have been a little hard to come by for the red half of Milan. Consequently this influx of goals from the former Padova loanee has been a welcome surprise for the Rossoneri this season.
Highlighting the great performances of El Shaarawy are perhaps the weak showings of Kevin Prince Boateng who has looked abject in Allegri’s side. The Ghanaian has looked a shadow of his former self and perhaps there is no more juxtaposing players in Serie A at this current moment than the former Portsmouth man and El Shaarawy. One truly prospering and the other languishing.
El Shaarawy, who has Egyptian parentage, has notched up over 1164 minutes on the field this season for the Rossoneri, a sign of his significance within this team that this figure is more than any other for Milan this year, even more than Riccardo Montolivo. To place this into context, last campaign in its entirety, El Shaarawy racked up only 786 playing minutes, a number he has surpassed with ease this season.
Undeniably El Shaarawy has been the one constant shining beacon for Milan and the forward bought for 10 million euros from Genoa in 2010 has started all 14 Serie A games this season. In a team that’s struggling, to have a fixed starting eleven who have an understanding of how each other play is key to getting results and moving up the league table.
In a season in which many have jumped upon the back of Max Allegri for Milan’s poor start perhaps it is time to credit the 45 year old manager for bringing the best out of his young star.
As El Shaarawy put it himself in a recent interview, “Allegri is putting a lot of trust in me” and this faith being instilled within Milan’s number 92, a reference to the year of his birth, has inspired El Shaarawy to produce his best ever football.
Yes, Allegri may have had his hands tied in playing some certain players, due to Milan trimming down the budget to achieve financial stability, however some credit must be given to the former Cagliari coach for putting faith in his player and for getting the best out of one of the most promising talents in Serie A.
By far the 20 year old’s best position is playing as a left sided forward allowing him to use his pace and ability to carry the ball down the flank at pace to expose defences. Also by playing on his left this allows him to cut back inside onto his right foot and home in on goal.
With a weight of 72kg and height of 178 cm, El Shaarawy is certainly a step away from having a big target man such as Ibrahimovic, but Allegri has found the perfect way in which to slot the small figure into his side. His productivity from this area of the pitch is proven by the fact that in the seven games in which he has been deployed in the role of left forward, he has hit the back of the net on seven occasions.
Arguably the most important aspect of El Shaarawy’s game however which he brings to this Milan side is the ability to dig them out of a hole, the grit and determination to rescue a point for the Rossoneri when the side is not firing on all cylinders. Perhaps not quite at the level of Ibrahimovic or indeed Napoli’s Edinson Cavani at pulling results out of the air for their respective sides, El Shaarawy does fight hard on the pitch for his club.
Eight of El Shaarawy’s ten Serie A goal this season have come in the second half of matches proving again his persevering attitude to get the job done and rescue his team. As El Shaarawy matures this skill and his resilience will likely improve and could potentially become a bigger part of his game.
Whatever is said regarding the state of AC Milan this season, the one player fans of the Rossoneri can rely on to perform so far this season is Stephan El Shaarawy. A player excelling under coach Max Allegri who is developing into a true star for the future of Italian football. It will certainly be interesting to see whether El Shaarawy can sustain this level of play in what is a long season ahead.