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 Cesare Prandelli and Stephan El Shaarawy.

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 AC Milan 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


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