Stephan El Shaarawy: The Only Good Thing About AC Milan This Season

Salvatore Landolina@@landolinasContributor IINovember 18, 2012

MILAN, ITALY - OCTOBER 27:  Stephan El Shaarawy and Nigel De Jong  (L) of AC Milan celebrate scoring the first goal during the Serie A match between AC Milan and Genoa CFC at San Siro Stadium on October 27, 2012 in Milan, Italy.  (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)
Claudio Villa/Getty Images

"Stephan El Shaarawy: heart and soul." That was Tuttosport's headline on Sunday morning (via Football Italia).

It could not be more accurate after the 20-year-old's double strike saw his Milan side fight back to earn a 2-2 draw at Napoli after having gone 2-0 down.

Perhaps a better headline would have been: "El Shaarawy: A One Man Team."

As good as he is, with 10 goals to his name in Serie A this season, the Italy international is not the complete answer to Milan's problems, which continue to make headline news.

The troubles at San Siro are a lot deeper than scoring. In Christian Abbiati they have a goalkeeper who has proven unreliable as he was at fault for both of Napoli's goals at the San Paolo. Milan's defence fares no better. Their 18 goals conceded is the same amount as Bologna who languish in the relegation zone.

As his teammates at the back continue to be a letdown, El Shaarawy seems like the only player who can score.

Bojan Krkic has done nothing since leaving Barcelona, ending up at Milan on loan via Roma. Giampaolo Pazzini has scored half the number of goals as El Shaarawy in the same amount of games. Alexander Pato continues to struggle, while Robinho has never been able to pull in a good shift on a regular basis up front.

All this shows the importance the former Genoa man has on Milan's hopes this season. When the Rossoneri look cold and flu-like, El Shaarawy gives warmth and beauty whenever he touches the ball. The Italian is a breath of fresh air. Young, hungry, ambitious, he scores goals, he is versatile, and he can play on the wings. There is pace, skill and strength, and his finishing is special.

El Shaarawy has provided more than all that, though. He has shouldered responsibility and papered over the cracks while others in the side have looked ordinary at best. But while the youngster continues to plunder the headlines, the big question Milan fans are asking is: How long can the club rely on him to fix the mess that has engulfed Massmiliano Allegri's side?

Club president Silvio Berlusconi needs to be brave and think hard about where he is taking Milan. Milan's calculations—such as selling two of their best players in Thiago Silva and Zlatan Ibrahimovic and not reinvesting—have been labelled as wildly optimistic by many. Big names left last summer, and they were not replaced.

In Abbiati they have one of the worst goalkeepers in European football. He is substandard for a side like Milan.

If El Shaarawy gets injured, the Rossoneri will be in disarray as there is no backup plan. Allegri will come under even more pressure as there will be no goals up front and too many going in at the other end. It would be a disastrous scenario for a club who were crowned champions of Italy the season before last.

Simply put, Berlusconi needs to get his house in order if Milan are to regain and wield the powers they once had in football. With all their history and past glories, Milan also have an obligation to Italian football. Serie A is struggling compared to La Liga, Bundesliga and Premier League, and the Rossoneri are doing nothing to help that improve.

While other clubs across the continent continue to throw money at making their squads the best, Milan's retrenchment and lack of investment in the team only offers poor hope for the future.

Looking back at what Il Diavolo used to be, a dominant power in world football with some of the best players ever to play the game, it's fair to say only El Shaarawy is worthy of wearing the jersey that once belonged to all-time legends.

Rossoneri fans will be hoping Berlusconi is not in a dash for cash come the summer transfer window, when El Shaarawy will again become the desire of the greatest clubs in football.


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