5 Reasons Why AC Milan Must Start Stephan El Shaarawy
After penning an extension with AC Milan until June 2018, Stephan El Shaarawy can truly be a pillar in his team's offense for the foreseeable future.
However, recent setbacks this calendar year have put a temporary halt on his potential with the Rossoneri. Both Massimiliano Allegri and Italian national team coach Cesare Prandelli relegated El Shaarawy to the bench in 2013, which understandably drew speculation from fans and media alike.
Here are five reasons why Stephan El Shaarawy must be a starter at Milan.
Stephan El Shaarawy is perfect for coach Allegri's ever changing formation. He can play on the left of a 4-3-3 or a 4-2-3-1, as a striker in a 4-3-1-2 or even behind the main attacker like he did at Padova.
His versatility means he can be effective in a variety of roles, always helping out the team however possible.
At Milan, he'd excel with someone like Kaka providing him through balls in the attacking half. After all, he's never really played with a true No. 10 behind him.
It's possible that El Shaarawy's burnout in the second part of last season was due to Allegri instructing him to track back whenever possible and help out the defensively inadequate Kevin Constant.
Often, fans would see Il Faraone aiding his teammates near his own penalty box, getting the ball back and starting a counter attack.
His selflessness in defending is what makes him an asset to Milan even if he isn't scoring.
Stephan El Shaarawy managed 16 goals last season, 14 of them coming in the first half of the season when he took Europe by storm.
He often likes cutting in from the left wing and curling an effort into the top corner. El Shaarawy can also score from distance and displayed ferocious strike power on several occasions last year.
The Italian international managed 19 goals in all competitions last season, which is an impressive tally for a 20-year-old in one of the most defensively sound leagues worldwide.
Chemistry takes time to build, which is why it's imperative that El Shaarawy starts alongside Mario Balotelli and gets familiar with his intricacies.
Not only could they excel domestically, but the duo could also take their partnership to the international level as well.
Saying that Mario Balotelli's arrival was the main reason why El Shaarawy stopped scoring is a cheap excuse that carries little weight. He started every game for Milan in the first part of the season and ran out of gas by Christmas time.
Growing an Icon
Milan know that the only way they'll be able to compete with European powerhouses is to build from within.
There's no way to go toe-to-toe financially with the likes of Paris Saint-Germain or Manchester City, so the best way to acquire talent is to find them early and build them into champions.
Considering what El Shaarawy has accomplished as a teenager in the top flight, it amazes me that there is even speculation of a possible exit in the future.
Even though there will be several growing pains, Stephan El Shaarawy really has a chance to become Milan's new icon.
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