Just six months into his season-long loan, Monaco look set to freeze out Stephan El Shaarawy, ensuring he will not play for the club again for the rest of the season.
According to reports in Italy, playing 25 matches this season would trigger his automatic purchase clause of €13 million and given his less-than impressive performances so far, Monaco are keen to restrict him to just 24.
Unwanted by both Monaco and his parent club AC Milan, where did it go so wrong for the winger and where will he end up?
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On the face of it, loaning El Shaarawy with a right to buy seemed a great deal by Monaco. Once upon a time, there were very few clubs not interested in the supposed wonderkid. However, the winger has failed to live up to lofty expectations, scoring just three goals for Monaco - none of which have come in Ligue 1.
The Pharaoh is likely to feel frustrated and hard done by at Monaco. After all he had only been given half a season to prove his worth after such a lengthy injury lay-off.
Moreover, the majority of his appearances for Monaco have come from the bench and he has consequently only completed 90 minutes on three occasions. Even so, Monaco haven’t seen enough in his sporadic appearances to convince them to shell out €13 million.
Milan can hardly be upset with the way in which events have transpired. In fact, vice-president Adriano Galliani in his attempts to palm off the attacker seems to have been given a taste of his own medicine. When AC Milan loaned Alberto Aquilani from Liverpool with an option to buy, he needed to make 25 appearances to trigger the automatic purchase of the player.
With substitute appearances amounting to half an appearance, Aquilani was restricted to 24.5 appearances to prevent Milan shelling out the €8m Liverpool wanted. Much in the same way, Monaco are unwilling to be forced into a purchase.
Shunned by Milan
So what next for El Shaarawy? Stay at Monaco for the rest of the season, where he knows for a fact he won’t get a kick? Or try and fight for his place at Milan, who have made it abundantly clear he is not wanted?
The Milan fan base were completely divided on the decision to let the 23-year-old go on loan to France. In the eyes of many, Il Faraone is still the home-grown starlet who but for a few injuries would be already one of the world’s best.
In an alternate universe, that could have been the case but in reality, he is at present a shadow of the player he was as a burgeoning teenager. The Milan hierarchy were more than likely aware of this and keen to offload the injury-prone, inconsistent attacker for a decent sum.
Despite the winger's lack of form, Milan's willingness to let him go so quickly could come back to haunt them. Still only 23, he has time to become the player Milan fans envisioned.
At present, the most likely option would see him return to the Rossoneri as a stop-gap, only to be sold or loaned again later this month. Reports claim that there are still interested parties back in his native Italy, most notably Roma, Fiorentina and Genoa, where he started his career.
His agent Manuel Pastorello expects his client to be on the move soon, with El Shaarawy still holding out hope of a Euro 2016 spot.
Perhaps a return home can see him reignite his stagnant career, but as for his short-lived Monaco journey, it can be deemed as nothing but a major failure. This move was a chance to prove that he's still got it; however, he has failed to convince Leonardo Jardim or the Monaco fans.
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