Does Stephan El Shaarawy ever score ugly goals? I don’t think so. After another beauty against Sampdoria last weekend, El Shaarawy has now scored 54 goals as a Roma player. It’s clear that Stephan is enjoying life in Rome, and the role of super-sub suits him perfectly, but in my opinion, he’s just too damn good to start on the bench. A luxury problem for the club.
The bad news? He becomes a free agent in two months' time. And really, the last thing you want to see is El Shaarawy moving to Inter, Juve, or Napoli for peanuts and scoring a wonder goal vs. Roma next season. Roma made that same mistake one year ago with Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
That is if Roma and SES don’t reach an agreement to prolong his expiring contract, of course. We all know his wages aren’t the cheapest out there, and he isn’t getting any younger, but does Roma really take the risk of playing hardball involving wages and letting SES go for free while they probably need to buy a replacement anyway in the summer? Could they be that foolish? I don’t see any downsides in a contract extension at all.
Point 1: Wages. There have been enough rumors suggesting Stephan would agree to a lower salary for the greater good. Matic and Smalling earn a lot, too, and are far older. If you want Serie A experience and a unique skillset like Stephan’s, you need to pay up. It comes with a price but it’s safer to spend it on these guys than an unknown or unproven kid if you want to fight for the top four. You can always include performance-related bonuses to make sure SES remains focused and motivated.
Point 2: Age. Another non-factor. He’s only one year older than Leonardo Spinazzola or Paulo Dybala and younger than Georginio Wijnaldum, Nemanja Matic, and Chris Smalling, and we wouldn’t mind if those guys stayed for two more seasons, no? It’s not a bad move to keep some experienced players around. Roma has players 30 years or older in every department apart from the attack. The arrival of Solbakken doesn’t necessarily mean SES must go now. Especially if Mourinho would opt for the 4-2-3-1 once again. Plenty of options for The Pharaoh to wreak havoc.
Then there’s the nostalgia factor. SES has been around since January 2016 (barring his short Chinese pleasure trip). Totti and Daniele were still here. Spalletti was our coach. Corona was just bad Mexican beer. He’s one of the Last of the Mohicans and knows the Roman environment. He can play multiple positions up front, as a starter or super sub. Last argument: he’s Italian, so hurrah for the Italian quota as well.
So yeah, not that many stumbling blocks, if any. Roma could extend the contract for two to three more seasons and would still be able to use its dangerous weapon in attack. The chances SES would suddenly go in a downward spiral and get rusty are rather slim. Toni, Montella, Dzeko, Batistuta, Totti himself... The Giallorossi have a history of attackers aging like fine wine and Stephan could be next, perhaps reinventing himself in a more central role instead of the wing.
We often use the nickname SES for Stephan. Well, it’s time to give it a new meaning: Swiftly Extend Stephan. The sooner, the better.