Stephan El Shaarawy Returns to Italy, Joins Up With Roma

Monaco loanee and Milan owned attacker Stephan El Shaarawy has arrived to the Italian capital of Rome, with just a medical remaining to finalize his loan move to Spalletti’s Roma.

On Tuesday, Roma officially announced the deal. The ex-Padova forward joins the giallorossi on a €1.4m loan for the remainder of the 2015-16 season, with the club holding an option -not obligation- set at €13m to purchase him outright this summer, contingent on the impact he provides.

The deal comes to no surprise. After flopping in Ligue 1 on loan with Les Rouges et Blancs, a sale was practically set in stone. El Shaarawy, who made the loan move this past summer, featured in 24 matches throughout all competitions, scoring just three goals -none in league play- for the principality.

With the struggles seemingly looking to have no end, manager Leonardo Jardim no longer observed the 23-year old Italian winger as part of his plans moving forward. Monaco vice-president Vadim Vasilyev publicly stated last month that El Shaarawy was “no longer a part of the project of the coach [Jardim]” and that “we are not planning to play him again.” El Shaarawy has not played since his 20 minutes against Troyes on December 19th, 2015.

The reason for freezing out the azzurri winger from featuring in another match was by playing him, the French club would have been forced into exercising their obligation to paying Milan €13m at the end of the season loan, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport.

Once “il Faraone” was ousted, it became clear that he was going to return to the San Siro club this month. But the dilemma was deciding whether to retain him or shop him on the open market, provided that the bid was somewhat worth considering. Manager Siniša Mihajlović, who began the season hoping to field a formation disabling wingers, was quoted saying: “El Shaarawy? He’s a player of importance but in those roles we are already well-covered.” However, when you look at the depth on the outside, that’s clearly not the case as the rossoneri have been surveying the market for right wing reinforcement after loaning out Suso and Alessio Cerci to Genoa. The new leader of the Italian giants did make clear his intent to revert from the 442 to the 4312 once last season’s leading scorer Jéremy Ménez was ready to take the pitch. This leads you to believe that Mihajlović did not want an abundance of wingers on the squad who could not fit his scheme.

There was little to no chance that El Shaarawy would still be roaming around the left wing come February; it’s been made clear with the pending sale of the 2012 star. But with a return to Italy, what does this mean for the future of El Shaarawy, for both club and country?

Since the first half of the 2012-13 season in which the young star scored 14 goals before the winter break and the arrival of Mario Balotelli, he’s been a massive disappointment. He’s battled his share of ailments, thus limiting his time on the pitch, but this season has been at least a healthier one. Part of the issue plaguing his development was not being fit enough to take the pitch, but if Roma could find a way to integrate him while keeping him out of the medical room, there is hope for a revival.

As for La Nazionale, there is still a good chance that he will make the trip to France for this summer’s Euro 2016 tournament.

Despite his woeful season, Italy manager Antonio Conte has given him his fair share of minutes during qualifying play. He started in three of the previous five qualifiers against Croatia, Bulgaria and scored a goal in a 3-1 win for Italy over Azerbaijan. Given the severity to find his ideal strike force, Conte will likely have to bring an additional winger or two in the event the pairing of, say Graziano Pelle and Eder, goes south and he needs to shake things up. [Also, it’s worth noting that Conte has leaned heavily towards a winger-heavy setup throughout qualifying.] In would step El Shaarawy who could play opposite Antonio Candreva in either a 433 -or 442 as a left-midfielder – and provide the Azzurri with tons of pace.

The short list of options for the former Juventus manager to choose from does favor El Shaarawy when it comes time to submit the final squad for the Euro in June. Of course, as mentioned before, his inclusion is contingent on how well, or poor, he performs under Luciano Spalletti for the remainder of the season.

Things did not work out as planned for Stephan El Shaarawy in Monaco. He had hoped that the change of scenery away from the daunting San Siro would help him find his once-world class form. Now, upon the official announcement of his loan move, El Shaarawy can turn his attention to focusing on football back in Serie A with Roma. He spoke about his new challenge after arriving at Fiumicino airport on Monday, via ESPNFC.com:

I feel ready, and I hope to give my contribution. I think there’s not much to talk about, and a lot of work to be done. I’m fired-up, motivated and enthusiastic. I hope to give my contribution in this delicate period.”

Italy’s Group E opener against Belgium is just four months away (we know, you can’t wait) and this new home in the capitale should rejuvenate El Shaarawy to prove that he is ready to give his downward-spiraling career new life.

 

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