With a few exceptions, I’ve endeavored to remain positive, or at the very least neutral, about the hordes of men to wear Roma’s colors during my six years covering the team. And for every Victor Ibarbo, Seydou Doumbia or Mauro Goicoechea—guys I’ve disdained from the word go—there are players like Luca Toni, Lucas Digne, Mattia Destro and John Arne Riise, guys who I view through nothing other than rose colored lenses.
While those objects of my affection have come and gone, Stephan El Shaarawy remains firmly in my heart; I just love the guy—from the way he sort of tip toes before unleashing an attacking, to the ease with which he skirts around defenders and the absurd goals he seemingly pulls out of nowhere, he can do no wrong in my eyes.
Is he streaky? Of course, but there are players like this in every sport—the hot and cold three point shooter, the first baseman who binges on homeruns then can’t get on base for ten days—you just have to take the good with the bad, because when he’s cresting, he’s a game changer.
It’s irrational and it’s hyperbolic, but I just love watching this kid play and I was so overjoyed when Roma snared him during the winter of 2016. Now, I’m under no delusions that he’s suddenly going to fulfill that massive potential he flashed when he debuted with Milan several years ago, but he is an integral part of a winning team, and that has tremendous value, even if he’s not the matinee idol many thought he’d be back in 2012.
In some ways El Shaarawy lives in the Fabio Quagliarella and Vincenzo Iaquinta sphere, guys who can easily bag anywhere from 12 to 20 goals for a mid-table team, but fall back to the eight to ten range for a larger club. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, but it does make one question which path the player will choose—big fish in a small pond, or an average sized fish in a biggish pond.
So when we’d hear intermittent whispers that SES would move back to Genoa, or a club of a similar ilk, naturally I became quite concerned. I wouldn’t have faulted him for chasing that glory, not if it led to financial gain or a greater shot at the Azzurri, but the loss would have stung no less. Not only is he one of my irrational favorites, but he’s a lethal weapon to have off the bench and/or as your third forward. In parts of three seasons with Roma, El Shaarawy has racked up 26 goals and 11 assists in all competitions.
And it appears as though I wasn’t alone in worrying about El Shaarawy’s future. Earlier today SES’s agent reaffirmed Stephan’s love for the city and club to which he’s become so closely tied.
He’s in love with the city, the club and the fans, I’m 100 percent convinced he’ll stay at Roma. The lad’s desire is to stay, and from what I understand that’s what the Coach and the club want too. I don’t see any kind of transfer on the horizon.
Well, that’s certainly a relief, but you just never know with this club, they churn through players like so many White House press chiefs, but SES, Cengiz Ünder and Diego Perotti gives Roma a lot of depth in and around Edin Dzeko.
El Shaarawy is incredibly just 25-years-old and while his shot at global superstardom has likely passed, I see no reason why he can’t be a consistent threat at double digit goals and a half dozen assists each year for Roma (all comps).