Milan have had a difficult start to the season, but their impressive away win away at Zenit in the Champions League gives them a reason to be cheerful.
Central to that win was an incredible solo effort from 19-year-old Stephen El Shaarawy, who became their youngest ever scorer in the competition. It was another sign that the talented young player is already beginning to fulfill his potential, as the goal added to his four in six games in Serie A this season.
With players like Ibrahimovic leaving the club, a lot of pressure has clearly been placed on El Shaarawy at a young age. To attempt to carry the attack of one Europe's biggest clubs, when most of the experienced heads have left, is a big ask.
However the young Italian is used to being thrown in at the deep end, when he made his first appearance for Genoa he was 16 years and 55 days old, the fourth youngest player to ever take to the field in Serie A.
The way he has started the season indicates he is prepared to take on the challenge. He has started either as the central striker, or one of the wide men in an attack of three, and scored goals from both positions. He also has an ability to conjure brilliant goals up all on his own, as evidenced by his superb strike away at Zenit.
His form has been so good that already heads have been turned at the big clubs around Europe, with Manchester United reported to be very interested in signing El Shaarawy.
AC Milan Vice-President has been quick to try and scotch any rumours of a move, pointing out that Milan have recently renewed El Shaarawy's contract until 2017. However with the events that unfolded over the summer, Milan may have indicated to other European sides that they are prepared to sell their very best players, due to the financial constraints on the club.
With his distinctive haircut, one that calls to mind the other young talents of Neymar and Hamsik, El Shaarawy is clearly not concerned about putting himself out there.
Team mates of his, unsurprisingly including Ibrahimovic, have threatened to cut it off in the past. Captain Ambrosini has offered a deal to El Shaarawy this season, score 15 goals and your hair will be safe. With the start he has made, El Shaarawy's crest should be safe for another year.
image: © olaszmelo
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