“I am very pleased by Stephan El Shaarawy’s performances,” Adriano Galliani insisted. Probably through gritted teeth. He had just seen the striker, still owned by Milan, put two past Empoli as Roma recorded a sixth straight victory.
It’s a victory which keeps the Giallorossi above Galliani’s Milan by six points, in what is an increasingly congested race for third. Before Fiorentina’s clash with Napoli this evening, it’s a position owned by Roma.
And after scoring just three times for Monaco in all competitions on loan earlier this season, El Shaarawy is living up to the potential he showed in Milan. His double on Saturday took the Little Pharaoh past his Monaco total in only six appearances. El Shaarawy’s first after only five minutes was a stunning, curled effort into the top corner.
El Shaarawy’s remarkable start to life in the capital has coincided with Roma’s climb back into Champions League contention under Luciano Spalletti. It was the start he had to have. After struggling for game-time in Monte Carlo, Roma fought hard for his signature. He joined on an initial loan spell and an option to buy for €13m. Roma’s chase is proving astute. And vital for the Italian international. “I knew that I couldn’t make a mistake this time. I started well, have to continue like this and find consistency in my performances and goals.”
Italy Coach Antonio Conte had an assistant watching from the Stadio Carlo Castellani stands and El Shaarawy’s response was perfect. Asked about it afterwards, the former Milan man said he is targeting France. “I came here to give my all, give my career a turning point and target a place at Euro 2016.”
Four Serie A strikes already puts El Shaarawy in Roma’s top five on the scorers list – January departure Gervinho netted six. Given the furore over the Francesco Totti interview and subsequent dropping from the squad which beat Palermo, Edin Dzeko’s inconsistency and Mohamed Salah’s unpredictability, should El Shaarawy continue from where he has started then Roma have in their grasp a dangerous attacking weapon. “He is a talent,” Spalletti enthused. “He has technique, creativity and speed. And he can resolve games on his own.”
Roma meet Fiorentina, Real Madrid and Inter this month, then contest the Derby della Capitale in early April. It’s make or break for Spalletti’s side and so El Shaarawy’s goals are timely for the Giallorossi.