5 Reasons an El Shaarawy-Balotelli Pairing Benefits AC Milan and the Azzurri
The future is bright for Italy as we approach the 2014 World Cup in Brazil under the tutelage of Cesare Prandelli.
Mario Balotelli owned Euro 2012, but there is a new kid on the block, Milan's Stephan El Shaarawy.
Il Faraone is the current capocannoniere of Serie A, and he is getting Azzurri fans very excited at the prospect of sparking a partnership with Super Mario.
The enigmatic Manchester City striker has never hidden his allegiance to Milan and the Rossoneri dream of linking him up with their new hero, El Shaarawy.
Here are five reasons why it would be great news for everybody involved, including the national side.
Stephan El Shaarawy's ability to fit into almost any formation will make Mario Balotelli's adaption to the Rossoneri swift.
The 20-year-old is enjoying a wide left berth, which particularly suits his ability to pursue mazy dribbles and slaloming runs into the central areas where he can finish to devastating effect.
Balotelli has experience as a lone striker already, having flourished in Cesare Prandelli's 4-3-3, which Massimiliano Allegri is somewhat mimicking at the present.
If Milan were to return to the tried and tested diamond formation that proved so successful under Carlo Ancelotti, the pair would be equally as effective operating closer together through the middle.
Due to Balotelli's physique and extraordinary strength and power, opponents would be drawn towards the 22-year-old, leaving space for El Shaarawy to drift inside or be played in from the wing.
The possibilities are essentially endless for the manager due to their extensive skills being adaptable to almost any system.
Youth and Development
Given that both strikers are still in the early stages of what will surely be glittering careers, a move for Balotelli back to Serie A could pave the way for one of the great striker partnerships.
El Shaarawy is 20 years old and Balotelli is still only 22 years old, which provides the possibility of the pair leading a new golden generation at Milanello for the next decade.
While both are already exceptional players, there are plenty of areas that they can improve in, and if Adriano Galliani could broker a deal, then they could chisel their games together.
Milan Finally Able to Trust an out-and-out Striker
Milan are in the midst of a search for a new striker after Zlatan Ibrahimovic departed last summer.
Allegri has experimented with several options, but nobody has fitted the bill or been good enough to fully claim the opportunity.
Bojan Krkic, Robinho and Kevin-Prince Boateng are not entirely suited to being a lone striker in a 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 formation, while Alexandre Pato's injuries have deprived him of any consistent run in the side.
Giampaolo Pazzini just doesn't feel good enough for Milan's ambitions, but he is at least the type of player that would bring Milan to the next level, which makes Balotelli such an attractive proposition.
The City star possesses the physical attributes needed to lead the line, but is also deadly enough in the penalty area to contribute enough goals to the side. This is much needed given the premature reliance on El Shaarawy from the left.
El Shaarawy Could Focus on One Position for Club and Country
Stephan El Shaarawy has demonstrated he is able to score in Serie A, leading the goalscoring charts despite not operating always down the middle.
El Shaarawy is enjoying his role out wide in a 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1, but Il Faraone has often been tried out through the middle in a diamond 4-4-2 formation.
Allegri is still chopping and changing the central striker while El Shaarawy thrives out wide, but eventually the Milan tactician might be tempted to use him more centrally if his current options in attack fail to grasp the opportunity.
Prandelli has also tinkered with his formation and therefore moved a willing El Shaarawy into numerous roles for the side. This is fine for the moment, but as he matures, El Shaarawy will need a settled role for both club and country to fully fulfil that extraordinary potential.
If Balotelli joined the Rossoneri, the 22-year-old would inadvertently provide stability for Il Faraone. The youngster's form is scorching hot right now, but when it eventually dips, it will be stability at his club and country that will help him rekindle it quickly, and Balotelli will ensure this is possible.
Options Amplified for Milan's Regista Montolivo
Riccardo Montolivo is fast becoming the lynch pin for the Rossoneri in the midfield, spraying passes long and short and assuming more responsibility and leadership for the group.
One of Prandelli's dilemma's entering the road to Brazil 2014 is the role that Andrea Pirlo can play moving forward. The 33-year-old will inevitably slow down, and there were signs of this at the San Siro last weekend.
Montolivo is ready to inherit this role for both club and country, proving his decision to leave Fiorentina for Milan was justified in order to receive a greater platform from one of Europe's biggest clubs.
If he is able to have Balotelli as an option up the field, Montolivo will be able to spray lofted passes towards Super Mario, which will mean that the opposition will be reduced to crowding the central areas.
Balotelli and El Shaarawy both possess great pace which will hand Italy and Milan the threat in behind, a pass that is not too common in the Rossoneri's attacks right now.
Montolivo would have a greater variety of passes open to him if Balotelli joined Milan, and this would provide him with the opportunity to stamp his authority on the matches more, making Milan's attack and possession less predictable.