Roma's midseason acquistion of Stephan El Shaarawy was greeted by many with a healthy bit of skepticism. Here was a player, though undeniably talented, that had only scraped together roughly six months of consistent football. Whether it was his injuries, his inconsistent minutes or simply being caught up in Mario Balotelli's sphere of influence, El Shaarawy never really built on his impressive debut with AC Milan several seasons ago, so when he became the jewel of Roma's winter transfer campaign, it left a lot of people puzzled.
To his credit, El Shaarawy came into this situation with the right mindset: forget your past glory, forgive those who have slighted you, put your head down and get to work, and what a job he did. With five goals and two assists in his first seven matches in a Roma shirt, El Shaarawy became an indispensable part of Luciano Spalletti's lineup, creating a formidable attacking trio alongside Mohamed Salah and Diego Perotti. All told, SES scored eight goals in 17 matches, good for a 0.60 goals per 90 rate, 7th best in the league.
Of course, this being Roma and all, that success won't be easy to lasso down. Thanks in part to their Financial Fair Play transgressions, Roma have to tow a fine financial timeline when it comes to redeeming the remainder of El Shaarawy's contract, which begins with a €13 million payment to Milan.
While there have been some intermittent and hilarious rumors involving a straight swap for Edin Dzeko, Serie A guru Gianluca Di Marzio reports that this proposed trade was shot down, one can assume with extreme authority. However, my dear Roma fan, don't fret, Di Marzio reports that Roma will redeem El Shaarawy as originally intended.
Now, given the FFP implications, meeting the June 30th deadline could be a bit tricky, a point Di Marzio did not address, which leaves a ton of room for speculation. Is there a corresponding or preceding outgoing sale on Roma's behalf? Have the two clubs reached a handshake agreement to extend the redemption deadline into the summer? Is Walter Sabatini putting El Shaarawy on lay away?
While we won't know the finer points for a few weeks, if true, this is the first, and I would argue most essential, domino to fall in Roma's summer transfer campaign. This kid is only 23-years-old and is an absolutely ideal fit for Spalletti's tactics.
Set your phasers to drool, my friends. Roma's attack is going to be nasty next season.