AC Milan: 5 Reasons Stephan El Shaarawy Will Keep Improving This Season
Stephan El Shaarawy is young, talented and a significant piece of the AC Milan attack. The up-and-coming star is already making history and should only continue to get better as the season progresses.
El Shaarawy became the youngest Milan player ever to score a goal in a Champions League match. He set the mark on Oct. 4 with a goal in the 3-2 win against Zenit St. Petersburg. El Shaarawy was 19 years and 342 days old.
AC Milan has struggled in the early part of the Serie A schedule. They have just seven points in six matches and sit 11th in the table. As the season continues, Milan will start to look more toward the young El Shaarawy to provide a spark.
With eight months of the Serie A slate still to go, El Shaarawy has ample time to develop in one of the best leagues in Europe before he even turns 20. Even with his youth, he should only get better, and here is why.
El Shaarawy is known for his outstanding dribbling ability and technical skill. He has shown that in the early part of the Serie A schedule.
His increased role occurred due to some timely injuries to Robinho and Alexandre Pato, but with his success and skill, the Egyptian-Italian striker should be a fixture in the Milan front.
El Shaarawy has shown off his strong leg a few times already with strikes from outside the box, but scoring isn’t all the kid can do. He is also an above-average passer and creates space with a solid first-touch.
The 19-year-old attacking midfielder has the skills to perform at a high level for Milan, and now he has the opportunity to showcase those skills.
It is difficult to defend a talented player like El Shaarawy. It’s even harder to defend him when he is as versatile as he is.
The 19-year-old attacker plays best as a right-winger, but he can also play as an attacking midfielder and even on the left side of the pitch. That causes some serious matchup problems for defenses.
El Shaarawy is right-footed, but he has exceptional on-ball skills and is a threat to score from just about anywhere. He has received high praise around the football world in his young career, earning the respect of former Milan star Alberigo Evani (via Goal.com).
"I like [what] Milan is doing, without giving too much prominence. Stephan is intelligent, and has undoubted quality but [he] should know that you can always improve and that you cannot lie still in football, in a moment [you can] lose everything,” Evani said.
"El Shaarawy is an investment for this club and we are very happy with him. Manchester United have fallen in love with him? Our policy is to focus on youngsters and he won't be moving from here," Galliani said.
As a consistent player in the Milan lineup, El Shaarawy has an opportunity to build some chemistry with his teammates.
El Shaarawy started the first game of the season against Chelsea but moved back into a diminished role for the beginning of Serie A. Four games into the Serie A schedule, he was back in the starting lineup with a sense of comfort with his teammates that has paid dividends.
In his last four starts, the midfielder has five goals, including a two-goal performance against Cagliari on Sept. 26. With Pato and Robinho returning to the pitch, El Shaarawy will have an opportunity to showcase his playmaking skiils.
If Milan can return to full strength quickly, they could make a run, especially with the continuing improvement of El Shaarawy.
Surrounded by Talent
Serie A is full of talent. When consistently facing some of the world’s best players, El Shaarawy has no choice but to get better—even if by default.
Players like Antonio Di Natale, Andrea Pirlo and Wesley Sneijder lining up across from the 19-year-old on a daily basis gives the young star no choice but to improve. El Shaarawy has shown that he has what it takes to rise to the occasion.
With Zenit, Malaga and Anderlecht in Milan’s Champions League group, El Shaarawy has an opportunity to play against a variety of styles of play. By the time the Champions League is through, there shouldn’t be much that the youngster hasn’t seen.
That experience will be invaluable for the goal scorer’s growth and a Milan run down the stretch in Serie A.
He Took His Lumps Early
While El Shaarawy’s entry into the Milan lineup may have been favorable, his start wasn’t. In his first seven matches, the right-footed midfielder was held scoreless—not due to lack of effort.
He put 13 shots up, including five on goal, in his first seven matches without finding the back of the net. For a young player, that can be a frustrating stretch. El Shaarawy has shown a level of maturity with his recent hot streak.
At 19, Milan could be looking at the future of their club. Former Milan Legend Andriy Shevchenko seems to believe so (via Tribalfootball.com).
“El Shaarawy is fast, technically gifted and he has the freshness that you need in the difficult moments,” Shevchenko said. “Who is he like? I don’t know who El Shaarawy can be compared to. I think that comparisons are harmful, because every champion is different. But Stephan has something that reminds me of myself, for example in the way that he accelerates.”
That’s high praise from the third-highest Champions League scorer in history (58 goals). He scored 175 goals for Milan and probably knows his way around the pitch. If a legend thinks El Shaarawy will be good, the world should listen.