A move to Monaco was supposed to reignite Stephan El Shaarawy’s injury plagued career, but four months on, El Shaarawy is set to return to Italy, on loan to Roma. Frozen out at Monaco after 15 games without a goal or assist, the one-time promising Milan player is still looking to rediscover what made him the highly sought after 20-year-old that was valued at €20 million.
By the end of business on Monday, with El Shaarawy in Rome, the move was in its final stages. Roma will get the Italian international on an initial loan move for €2m, according to reports, and will have the option to buy him outright in the summer for a further €13m. If all goes according to plan.
Despite El Shaarway’s form over recent years, Roma are in need of a player with his potential, as the Giallorossi need someone to set light to their smoldering performances this season. Although El Shaarawy has potential, it can’t be overlooked that this is a definite gamble by Roma, a club that were supposed to finally win an extremely elusive Scudetto in 2015/16.
— Stephan El Shaarawy (@OfficialEl92) January 25, 2016
Reinstalled Roma coach Luciano Spalletti wasted no time in hunting down El Shaarawy’s signature as he cuts away at the team’s deadweight.
“I remember El Shaarawy in a very positive way. He has technique, quality, pace and can score goals. He lost his way a little, I had the chance to speak to him and he gave me positive signals,” Spalletti told reporters in a recent interview.
“If he comes here to play the final six months of the season and get back his image and a place in the Italy squad, he has to do well. There isn’t much time.
“Anyone can have moments where he delivers less than he is capable of in a profession, and I think this happened to him, too.”
El Shaarawy became an unlikely star in the wake of AC Milan’s sale of Zlatan Ibrahimovic to Paris Saint-Germain in the summer of 2012. The former Genoa youth player scored 16 times in 36 Serie A matches for the Rossoneri.
However, all of those 16 goals were scored in the opening 26 weeks of the Serie A season. El Shaarawy was unable to keep that form going, especially with the addition of Mario Balotelli in January 2013, as the Italian striker became the focal point of Milan’s attack.
It didn’t help that many of the teams around the peninsula had figured out El Shaarawy’s penchant to slalom down the left before cutting in on his right foot. Tactically discovered, El Shaarawy struggled in a league known for it’s defensive nous.
Not helping El Shaarawy’s form was his fitness. The Milan player missed 55 games over two seasons due to injury. Missing a total of 305 days kept Il Farone from duplicating those early days at the San Siro.
In El Shaarawy’s breakout season, the winger averaged 2.8 shots per game compared to 1.8 this term at Monaco, according to WhoScored.com. His key passes per game are down to 0.6 from 1.5, although his overall passing percentage is still excellent, at 84%.
Meanwhile, El Shaarawy’s dribbles are down as well, from 3.9 per game to 1.9 in league play. El Shaarawy’s pace and ability to take on defenders was his biggest asset. That has almost dried up as injury has cut away at the speed he once used to beat defenders with.
Now with another chance to rekindle his best, El Shaarawy has the opportunity to rescue Roma’s season. Currently fifth, 12 points behind Serie A-leading Napoli, the Giallorossi cannot be counted out from having a resurgence.
A scudetto is highly unlikely, given the way Roma have performed thus far; however, obtaining another Champions League birth is not. An El Shaarawy revival could, once again, leave Roma supporters hoping next year will be their year.
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