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.
Roma took a stunning early lead at home against Chelsea in their Champions League group stage match on a goal just 40 seconds into the game.
Federico Fazio (again?!) delivered a gorgeous ball from the left flank, and Edin Dzeko was there to meet it. Instead of putting a speculative effort on net, the Roma striker instead flicked it back into the path of a sprinting Stephan El Shaarawy, who ripped a howitzer into the back of the net with the outside of his foot.
The goal at the time put Roma above Chelsea in the Group C standings, should the result hold.
There were a number of Chelsea culprits on the play. Cesc Fabregas let Fazio deliver the ball with minimal pressure on the wing. Dzeko split between Antonio Rudiger and David Luiz to make his run, while the latter defender failed to pressure on Dzeko’s header, instead sagging back anticipating the striker to collect the ball. Finally, Marcos Alonso was beated to Dzeko’s header by El Shaarawy, and did little to challenge the shot.
It’s this kind of lackluster defending that has seen Chelsea struggle of late. The Blues had conceded eight goals in their last five matches coming into today with just one clean sheet along that span.
Roma announced Tuesday they signed Stephen El Shaarawy permanently after the expiry of his loan move from AC Milan.
The transfer was completed for a fee of €13 million, warding off reported interest from Arsenal, Everton, and Liverpool.
El Shaarawy’s brother, who also represents him as an agent, said last month it was possible that he could play abroad, mentioning the Premier League by name.
Last campaign, the 23-year-old played for French side AS Monaco for half the season on loan from AC Milan, before moving to Roma in the winter transfer window. While he could not manage a goal in 15 league appearances for Monaco, he came back to his home country and hit his stride, scoring eight times in 16 Serie A appearances.
El Shaarawy is also with the Italian team at Euro 2016, but has not made an appearance so far through two group stage matches.
According to talkSport, Arsenal will be one of six potential clubs vying for the signature of AC Milan forward M’Baye Niang.
The 19-year-old French starlet has appeared in just eight Serie A matches this season for the Rossoneri, starting just one.
The report singles out Serie A’s Parma, Genoa, and Sampdoria along with French duo Montpellier and Marseille as the Gunners’ main competition this winter.
His current contract at the San Siro runs through June of 2017.
Piggyback reports around the English papers have slapped a £6 million ($9.8 million) price tag on the young forward, who is capable at both the striker and winger positions.
Niang will no doubt struggle to get any playing time with Milan in the near future due to the return of Stephen El Shaarawy from injury and the impending arrival of Keisuke Honda.
He would, however, prove valuable cover at the thin striker and wing positions at Arsenal.
According to the talkSport report, Niang has a history in England, having been given a trial at Arsenal, Everton and Tottenham before he settled on signing professionally with AC Milan.
Just two days before their opening match, Italy are sweating over the fitness of two of their youngest and brightest stars.
20-year-old AC Milan winger Stephan El Sharaawy sat out training with a slight muscle problem. It’s not thought to be serious, and he still is thought to be fit enough to play.
22-year-old striker Mario Balotelli limped off and left training with physios due to a leg problem, but again, it’s thought to be minor.
Manager Cesare Prandelli will be hoping the health of both attackers holds up, as their first matchup Sunday is against Mexico.
El Tri have struggled mightily to score goals, but they have also excelled at not conceding in their recent CONCACAF qualifiers, so Italy’s strike force must be in top shape.
Interestingly enough, the reports also say the training session was focused on a formation experiment, using Mario Balotelli up front as the lone striker, with Emanuele Giaccherini and Claudio Marchisio in supporting roles.