With Juan Iturbe all but a Bournemouth player, Roma's quota of wingers is now one short. Despite the fact that Rudi Garcia takes every opportunity to run Gervinho and Mohamed Salah into the ground, there is an ostensible need for a backup. I kid Garcia (to an extent) because Gervinho and Salah have been phenomenal this season, but they've also been injured, so parsing out their minutes in the second half should be a top priority.
So, in situations like these--where you have to entrenched startersâ--you can go one of two ways: grab a just past his prime player looking for a last shot at glory or roll the dice on a young kid and hope that someday he can possibly replace an overpriced veteran.
With no viable elder statesman on the market, Roma is reportedly taking tact number two, albeit with a slight twist. As each passing day brings renewed rumors of Stephan El Shaarawy, it appears as though Roma is going the youth + reclamation project route, hoping the Pharaoh can find new life in the Eternal City.
El Shaarawy, you may recall, was once the hottest prospect on the peninsula, banging home 16 goals in 2012-2013, his first season as a full-time Serie A player. Through his first 59 league appearances, El Shaarawy had 18 goals and six assists and had become an unquestioned starter on what appeared to be a resurgent AC Milan side.
But then Mario Balotelli came to town and, as one would expect, El Shaarawy's goals disappeared. Once Super Mario asserted himself in Milan's lineup, SES managed only two goals after the winter break. And, with only five league goals to his credit since then, it's safe to say he never recovered.
Now, the reasons for this are varied--injuries, shifting roles, changing leagues--but the parallels between El Shaarawy and Mattia Destro are almost too numerous to recount. Suffice it to say, each man (kid, more likely) was highly touted and burst onto the scene with an incredibly hot four to six month stretch (SES in 2012-2013, Destro the following year),only to suffer under the weight of those crushing expectations and, to be fair, some mismanagement.
While Destro is enjoying a mini-resurgence in Bologna, El Shaarawy's days in Monaco are effectively done, as he has made 24 appearances already, one short of the magical 25th that would then require Monaco to make the move permanent.
El Shaarawy is, and this is hard to believe, just 23-years-old and remains a multifaceted albeit frustrating threat on the pitch. With five goals in his past six matches, Destro is proving that there is hope for the post-hype prospect in Italy, but he's earning regular minutes, so while El Shaarawy could no doubt replicate Iturbe's role with Roma, we're left to wonder if it's the best move for his still young career.
For my part, I say (depending on the cost) it's a safe gamble to make. At the very least, he's capable of being a role player, while his youth and still tantalizing potential could pay huge dividends if he finds steady minutes.