According to a report by Italian publication Il Tempo, Roma winger Stephan El Shaarawy is transferring to Chinese club Shanghai Shenhua.
The 26-year-old is coming off one of the best seasons of his career as Roma’s leading scorer with 11 goals and named to the WhoScored team of the season based on their rating system. Still, he is heading into the final year of his contract with the club and talks have reportedly stalled on a new deal.
The report states that Roma is close to agreeing on a deal with Shanghai worth $20.5 million that is desperately needed by the club to balance the books. El Shaarawy will reportedly sign a three-year deal with the Chinese club and will earn a whopping $14.8 million per year after tax.
The Italian international will join Odion Ighalo at Shanghai, with the team coached by former Watford boss Quique Sanchez Flores who joined in December. The club has struggled mightily in his first season in charge, winning just its third match of the year last time out on Friday having played 14 thus far, putting them in 12th out of 16 top flight teams.
It will be interesting to see how the transfer potentially affects El Shaarawy’s status with the Italian national team, which has infamously frozen players out in the past for moving to clubs outside of Europe, including Sebastian Giovinco who was left out of the squad repeatedly despite performing exceptionally well for years in Major League Soccer. El Shaarawy would be the only current Italian international to play in the Chinese league, so there is little precedent for this particular league as of yet. He owns 23 caps for the national team and was an unused substitute in their last match, a 2-1 Euro qualifying win over Bosnia & Herzegovina on June 11.
The Il Tempo report also says that Edin Dzeko and Kostas Manolas will be sacrificed as the club looks to raise funds to ensure a net gain during the year. Dzeko is heavily linked with Inter, while Manolas is connected to Napoli.