Published On: Sun, Jun 30th, 2013

AC Milan’s El Shaarawy Must Prove Himself to Prandelli

stephan el shaarawyDespite Italy’s stuttering start at this year’s Confederations Cup, another question has come about regarding the relationship between and .

In the first game the player was left on the bench, picked up an injury for the second one, and only came on as a substitute in the last group game against Brazil.

Much has been said about the duo of Mario Balotelli and El Shaarawy, and so we wonder what are Prandelli’s apprehensions about in terms of partnering them for la Nazionale?

Realistically speaking, the pairing of El Shaarawy and Balotelli seems the most obvious option for Prandelli. Both players operate together at club level, and so replicating this scheme seems only natural.

Prandelli’s doubts may have to do with the young forward’s inexperience and rawness, however. El Shaarawy is the archetypical rough diamond, his game is still developing and reliant on the little things he is able to do well such as using his pace and agility.

El Shaarawy is probably too much of a one-trick pony for Prandelli at this point in time. In fact, were it not for a disconcerting lack of attacking options, Prandelli probably would have opted to send El Shaarawy to compete with the Under-21 squad this summer.

Although El Shaarawy has had a full Serie A season, scoring 16 league goals, he has only had one half of a productive one. In his defence, however, inconsistency is the kind of thing that has to be accounted for with a player so young.

Cesare Prandelli, ItalyThis is also where Prandelli hesitates, because the player is unpredictable. Should he put him on the field, Prandelli has no way of knowing if he is getting the El Shaarawy that was in blistering form at the start of the season or the slightly jaded one during the second half of AC Milan’s campaign.

But we also have to go back to what El Shaarawy brings on the pitch. Despite being a left-sided player, El Shaarawy is right-footed and very much so. He has an incessant habit of cutting inside onto his dominant foot and it is something that has caught up with him in the second half of his Serie A campaign.

The fact is that Prandelli wants a player who can open up the pitch more. It is for this reason that Antonio Cassano was such a precious player for Prandelli.

Yes, Cassano also cuts inside onto his right foot. However, the difference is that Cassano knew when he had to make space for others and open the pitch up. El Shaarawy only looks to make inside runs, and thus, forces the play in more central areas and narrows down the pitch.

The main issue of Prandelli is simply that he does not quite yet trust El Shaarawy, mainly because he knows so little of him today. As a result he has probably not quite decided how to utilize him alongside Balotelli.

After all, the absence of Cassano right before his return for Euro 2008 had seen Prandelli try a host of candidates in an effort to replicate the Italian’s impact.

Today, when Cassano is no longer an option, we have seen Prandelli frenetically mix-and-match his tridente (front-three) throughout these first few games of the tournament in order to find the right blend.

The fact is, El Shaarawy is simply paying the cost of Prandelli’s incertitude, without it being a reflection of his lack of ability or his coach not acknowledging his talent.

Follow Ogo Sylla on Twitter: @RossonerOgo_3

 

About the Author

Ogo Sylla

- I am a Senegalese freelance journalist based in New York. I contribute mostly on Italian Serie A and French Ligue 1 football. I formerly worked as a journalist for the Federation of Senegalese Football, covering the national team. I currently contribute to the USA-based publication, Howler magazine. Most of my rantings & ravings can be found on Twitter at @RossonerOgo_3

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  1. AP says:

    All this speculation and pressure on El Shaarawy seems just unfair. He has so much potential, but there is a chance he will lose it if people keep criticizing him. Milan has not made this any easier for El Shaarawy; in fact, they have made it much worse. Those idiots, in trying to play out their strange transfer tactics, are simultaneously ruining the morale of one of their best players.

    This is why youngsters like Verratti have left Serie A. They don’t know how to handle their own youth (although they love foreign youth).

  2. popoola raff says:

    i will just advise this guy to leave serie a this summer because the media is just killing this young star. if jack wilsher was criticize like this when he was under-performing he would have been in the third tier league. as of the whole of Europe how many players has performed like him? its just a pity it will be a mix feeling for me when he leaves. but for me he should go to a better club not man city. go to like borrusia dotmud he will be more appreciated there. i can not just wash to see his future ruin. forza milan

  3. Ogo Sylla Ogo Sylla says:

    Galliani & co. are obviously positioning themselves to attempt to make money off of him. Recent speculations have not helped him. I don’t think that really affected his performance for Italy however, I think fatigue/burnout was more to blame. That being said, I’m sure the speculation didn’t help him either

  4. Lorenzo says:

    One trick pony? You do realize when you play a footballer with central tendencies out wide, he’ll be bound to be predictable? How does he rely on his pace and agility considering he slows down before the dribble and cut and isn’t even that pacy as people make out? Iniesta, Ander, Isco, etc all central players who played wide and had the EXACT same problems of predictability. If you watched him with Padova, you would understand how much better he is behind the striker in his NATURAL role instead of being pushed out wide. Also played out wide to the right and had a similar problem despite cutting onto his LEFT foot. He is ambidextrous despite the forced use of his right foot if played out wide.

    Your words severely misleading.

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