As Roma fans, we've grown accustomed to many things; stunning kits, tight matches, thunderous crowds at the Olimpico and stirring displays of emotions from the players after a critical goal. For these reasons and many more, we've all fallen in love with Roma, but there is a dark side to the Roma experience: bidding farewell to wave after wave of popular players as they are sacrificed at the altar of FFP. From Mohamed Salah to Alisson to Antonio Rudiger to Marquinhos, it's a song and dance with which we've become painfully familiar. While losing any talented player stings in its own unique way, the level of your reaction was likely tied to your emotional investment in said player.
When Roma signed Stephan El Shaarawy in the winter of 2016, I could hardly contain my excitement. While SES had slipped since his sensational debut with AC Milan in 2012, he was young enough and explosive enough to remain an intriguing option for Roma during the transition from Rudi Garcia to Luciano Spalletti.
SES filled a variety of roles for Roma during his four seasons in the capital—starter, rotation piece, last minute sub—but really came into his own during his final season with Roma. During the 2018-2019 season, El Shaarawy turned in arguably his best and most consistent season as a professional, scoring a club leading 11 goals and chipping in 3 assists in league play.
But then he was sold...for the relatively paltry sum of €18 million, a transaction I did not take well:
Look, El Shaarawy was my favorite player on this current squad, so I can’t hide my disappointment, but more power to him; that’s a ton of money and more than he likely would have made playing in Serie A for the remainder of his career, so I certainly can’t blame him for taking that rather than moving to another midtable Serie A team.
And for all this, they’re pulling in a measly €18 million. Bravo, Roma. With Edin Dzeko seemingly steps away from Inter Milan and El Shaarawy now on his way to China, we’re left to wonder who will be scoring goals for Roma next season.
El Shaarawy was a productive and dutiful servant to AS Roma but ultimately, like so many before him, that just didn’t matter.
We've endured far greater FFP blows before, but this one really got to me; surely they could have fetched more than that for a 26-year-old player (at the time). However, in an ironic twist, the man who first reported the departure of El Shaarawy, Sky's Gianluca Di Marzio, dropped an interesting nugget in his most recent Roma transfer update, reporting that, over the past few days, El Shaarawy has expressed a growing interest in returning to Roma.
Before you dig your #92 shirt out of the closet, there are a few logistical concerns standing in the way of this joyous reunion. Shanghai Shenua only purchased El Shaarawy last summer for €18 million, and assuming they'd fulfill El Shaarawy's desire to return to Italy, we can presume that's the starting point of the negotiations; he's only been there six months, so they don't have to grant Roma any discounts.
But the real stumbling block are his wages, which are somewhere in the €14 to €15 million neighborhood...net. El Shaarawy likely made more money during his six months in China than he did during his final two years in Rome. Now, we're not suggesting El Shaarawy would demand that same salary, but how much of a cut is he willing to take to return to Italy? Exactly how badly does he want to come back?
There is certainly a fit and need for El Shaarawy at Roma, but with the winter transfer closing soon, El Shaarawy better make his wishes clear as soon as possible.