In the first half of the 2012-13 Serie A campaign, a new star was born at AC Milan in the wake of the departed Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Through the first 22 games of the Serie A season, 20-year-old Stephan El Shaarawy was in unstoppable form, bagging 15 goals and three assists.
The Italian was meant to be the symbol of the new Milan, built on youth rather than financial outlay. But his breakneck transition from promising youngster to household name would soon be put on hold.
El Shaarawy scored just once more that season after Mario Balotelli arrived. He then missed almost the entirety of the following campaign due to serious injury.
Ahead of the current term, he found himself at a crossroads. Could he recapture his once brilliant form under the mentorship of Pippo Inzaghi?
To date, he hasn’t quite done so. El Shaaarawy has scored once thus far, and has hardly been a nailed-on starter for Inzaghi’s side.
That being said, the 22-year-old is still highly thought of. There have been constant rumblings that he could soon leave Milan, with Roma and Dortmund named as the latest suitors.
However, El Shaarawy’s brother – also the forward’s agent – has denied speaking with the pair and says no January move is on the cards.
Manuel El Shaarawy told Gianlucadimarzio.com: “I haven’t been contacted by either Roma or Borussia Dortmund, or any other club for that matter.
“Unless there are incredible offers that nobody can predict, Stephan won’t leave Milan in January.”
But Manuel El Shaarawy did go on to discuss his brother’s long-term prospects away from Milan. There has long been interest in the Italian from the Premier League.
Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal and Liverpool have all strongly been linked with El Shaarawy in the past, while Chelsea’s Jose Mourinho is believed to be a great admirer of his.
The versatile forward’s brother has now said that if El Shaarawy is to leave Milan, he could be nudged towards a future on English shores.
“I don’t know his preferences; we have never discussed the subject. Personally should he leave the Rossoneri, I would like to see him play in the Premier League – it’s a league that fascinates me.”
Whether that means El Shaarawy will one day ply his trade in England remains to be seen, but it does seem a distinct possibility.
For now the 22-year-old must focus on recovering the form that originally made him a phenomenon, convincing interested parties his future is indeed bright.
El Shaarawy still has plenty of time to reassert his place in European football, and the proper pieces will fall into place if he is indeed able to do so.