Yesterday saw the first day in work for many new club managers across Europe, and with a bit of settling into seats and desk-rearranging probably sorted out by now, the serious business of squad selection is getting underway in earnest. With Jose Mourinho being the new incumbent at Chelsea, it’s safe to say that there’ll be a lot of speculation over the coming weeks as to who the Blues will be targeting. Today’s newspapers have begun that process by linking the club AC Milan’s Stephen El Shaarawy. Whilst it may initially sound a bit far-fetched to consider that the Rossoneri would sell the precocious 20 year old, there may just be a glimmer of substance to it.
Looking at the bare statistics, it’s easy to fall into the assumption that El Shaarawy and Mario Balotelli are a dream forward line for the Milanese club. But, if you couple a declaration by club vice-president Galliani, when speaking to Sky Italia, stating that Balotelli “absolutely cannot be sold” with the fact that of El Shaarawy’s 16 goals for Milan last season, 12 came in the first 14 games and only one has been scored since Balotelli arrived from Manchester City, a different story may emerge. It may just be the case that perhaps the partnership is somewhat less than ideal.
Neither are Milan any longer the club that refuses to sell their top line players. Last year’s departure sale of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva to PSG gave the lie to that myth, so a further big sale this summer is not out of the question. Any fee, should there be a potential deal, has been variously estimated as £30million to £40million. Given some of the inflated prices floating around at the moment, I’d guess we’d be looking at the upper end of that range, although there is also a rumour that Milan would consider taking Fernando Torres in part exchange. Quite what worth they would put on him is however unclear.
Galliani also told Sky Italia he as expecting to have to speak with El Shaarawy and his representatives this week to discuss his future, and perhaps tellingly, added that "We've got lots of players and before we can buy anybody, we've got to sell." The fact that the player recently agreed a new contract taking him up to 2018, may only be a bargaining chip for Milan.