Hamstrung by injury, Stephan El Shaarawy has been unable to recapture the form that made him on of football’s hottest prospects just two years ago.
A sensation during his first season as a consistent starter in Serie A, El Shaarawy shot to prominence with 16 goals for the Rossoneri during an impressive 2012-13 campaign.
The arrival of Mario Balotelli at San Siro seemed to halt the Italian’s progress, however, and a never-ending slew of injuries have combined to bring his young career screeching to a halt.
After missing nearly the entirety of last season due to physical problems, the 22-year-old’s luck hasn’t been much better this time around, with limited minutes.
Because of a foot fracture El Shaarawy hasn’t turned out for Milan since late January, tallying just a single goal and three assists through his prior 15 top-flight appearances.
Through his struggles the Italy international’s future has been a frequent topic of discussion. Allegations of mismanagement by Milan, who have a poor medical record over the past years, have been rife.
Heading towards an uncertain future, it’s a fair question to ask whether it would be a wise move for El Shaarawy to depart San Siro to get his future back on track.
The Telegraph reported earlier this month that Arsenal are considering making an £11.8 million move for the Italian this summer, having looked at El Shaarawy in January.
But according to Di Marzio, the Milan man doesn’t see such a reunion as much of an option – even if he is takes Preziosi’s statements as a compliment.
Instead, El Shaarawy is said to have eyes for an adventure abroad should his time in a Rossoneri shirt be brought to an end – with Arsenal his preferred destination.
There in turn appears to be a genuine mutual affinity between the Gunners and the oft hobbled Milan starlet, though there are plenty of doubts to sort through.
El Shaarawy has only just returned to the fold from his latest setback, Milan confirming on Friday that he has been cleared to return to training after undergoing examination.
It’s been over two years since he was consistently productive and never-ending injury woes are a red flag in young players. There is no certainty El Shaarawy will be able to remain healthy for extended periods of time.
A switch to Arsenal would be a risk for both player and club, as El Shaarawy would need to adapt to a new league, fight for minutes and attempt to rediscover his form at the same time – all while battling his injury demons.
The will of a player can be an important driving factor in transfers, though the Italian and Arsenal may want to think twice.
El Shaarawy’s career is at a crossroads at present, and while joining Arsenal may look glamorous, it could potentially spell further difficulty for a 22-year-old needing to rediscover himself.