Image from www1.skysports.com
It has been a season of relative dissappointment for AC Milan. The high profile departures of Swedish superstar Zlatan Ibrahimovich and Brazilian defender Thiago Silva, both to free-spending Paris Saint Germain, has the club struggling in a season of transition.
The famous Milan side have been below par domestically this year – they are lingering in 8th in Serie A, 14 points off first place Juventus despite beating the Bianconeri 1-0 this past weekend.
In Europe they have fared slightly better, but in a UEFA Champion’s League group that they were expected to win, they sit in 2nd place – 3 points behind Spanish side Malaga. They have qualified for the next round, but a 2nd place finish may pit them against the likes of Barcelona, Manchester United, or Borussia Dortmund, which would leave AC Milan as underdogs to progress to the quarterfinals.
With results not going their way, Milan’s fans have begun to hang their hopes for the future on the one man who has had considerable success for the Rossoneri this season – Stephan El Shaarawy.
El Shaarawy, or Il Faraone (The Pharaoh) as he is affectionaly called due to his Egyptian heritage, has had a breakout season for AC Milan this year, providing their most potent attacking threat in an otherwise toothless offense.
Il Faraone joined the Milan giants on June 25, 2011, leaving Genoa (where he made his debut at the age of 16 years and 55 days old, making him the 4th youngest debutant in Serie A history) for the promise of one of Europe’s most historic clubs.
El Shaarawy finished with four goals in 28 appearances in his first season at the club, which although not outstanding, was a decent return for a player who at the time was a 19-year-old fringe figure at Milan.
His potential was always evident though, and this season he has not only become a starter for AC Milan, but has quickly become their key attacking player.
El Shaarawy has already tripled his goal tally from last season with an impressive 12 goals in 19 appearances for the Rossoneri in all competitions. He has also added a few assists, and in general has been the catalyst for Milan’s attacking play.
He has played mostly as a left-forward for Milan, cutting inside and causing havoc in the opposition defences. His eye for goal makes him a threat, but his passing and trickery have also been crucial to his side this season.
He has so far made three appearances for the senior Italian team, and earlier this month on Nov. 14 he scored his first international goal for the Azzurri in a friendly against France.
Having only just turned 20, El Shaarawy has an undeniably bright future, and in their period of turmoil AC Milan will be hoping that his good form continues and he propels them back towards the top of the Serie A table.