Milan have moved to clarify the future of their star Stephan El Shaarawy, who has been linked with a move away from the club this summer.
A statement read on the Rossoneri's official website (via Sky Sports): "There has been a meeting between (Milan vice president) Adriano Galliani, Stephan El Shaarawy and the young star's entourage."
"Everything went well. Stephan has always been an AC Milan fan and has reiterated his determination to continue playing for the Rossoneri."
"That pledge was reciprocated by Milan, with conviction. Milan and El Shaarawy will move forward together, as they have since 2011."
"No more talk of the transfer market, no more rumours. AC Milan, the Rossoneri colours and Il Faraone will absolutely continue on together."
So that should be the end of the story, right? Not exactly.
Last summer Milan made similar, if not quite as vociferous noises that Thiago Silva and Zlatan Ibrahimovic would remain with the Rossoneri via Goal.com.
Upon the players' eventual sale, fans staged an angry protest that might have forced the club's hand regarding the potential sale of El Shaarawy this summer.
Quite why the club would consider selling such an outstanding prospect is beyond belief. Especially when Il Faraone was voted the club's player of the year last season at the tender age of 20 years old.
With so much ability and raw talent, El Shaarawy's value can only soar in the coming years and with a contract that runs until 2018, the club's investment is not likely to diminish any time soon, providing the Azzurri international remains healthy.
Having already proven his worth on the left side of an attacking trident last season and making a promising start to his international career through the middle, the player's versatility will shine through even more next season.
Massimiliano Allegri will switch the team's formation from his preferred 4-3-3 to a more attack-minded 4-4-2 diamond, which will also appease club president Silvio Berlusconi, who craves a more flamboyant style of football.
El Shaarawy will look to form a potent partnership with Mario Balotelli and if Milan can complete a deal with CSKA Moscow for exciting Japanese international playmaker Keisuke Honda—with terms already agreed according to Corriere dello Sport (via Football Italia)—the Rossoneri will be a contender once again in Serie A.
Ultimately that will be the aim next season as Milan look to rebuild after PSG prized away their two best players last season—a 15-point deficit to champions Juventus is simply unacceptable for a club of Milan's stature.
El Shaarawy is a Rossoneri fan after all and provides great joy to Milanistas, which means that if the club were to sell the player at a premature point in his career, a rebellion from the ultras could take place, potentially damaging morale at the club and developing a hostile environment for the team's home games.
Milan must remain strong and stand by their recent statement they have made and not just stand still.
Keeping their best players is only half the job, investment in more talent in the transfer window will be key to whether Milan can return to prominence and vie for the Scudetto.
The sale of El Shaarawy would therefore make that last objective even tougher, reducing the lure of the Rossoneri by sending a clear message that the club's ambition is not what it once was.
Keeping a world-class talent such as El Shaarawy proves that Milan still have the appetite to justify their prestigious title—the most decorated club in the world.
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