|Must stay: Stephan El Shaarawy|
City have bid 40 million euros for Milan's Stephan El Shaarawy positively. Not for any pecuniary reasons, of course. I don't hold out hope that if Milan were to accept the bid they would invest it in the market, and I certainly do not obsess over balanced books.
Rather, it will give Milan fans an opportunity to see how genuine our management's talk of a youth revolution is. At 20, El Shaarawy is emblematic of Milan's youth policy, representing not only a critical part of the team, but also the Milan image that Silvio Berlusconi values so much: disciplined, good-looking, and in love with Milan. Kaka had it before he faded into Madridian obscurity. El Shaarawy has it now.
Before Mario Balotelli's arrival in January, El Shaarawy was prodigious. Yes, he has been diffident since, but Milan are precisely in the business of nurturing players now--or so they say.
If Milan sell El Shaarawy, then, not for the first time, the management publicized lies, telling us that Milan was now done selling big players for money. The books, as Milan CEO Adriano Galliani is so fond of telling us, are balanced. The team needs some key reinforcements to be formidable. El Shaarawy's sale would represent a total capitulation, not only to the rich of the football world, but to the club itself and what it purports to stand for. And if Milan don't invest the money significantly, then we have to question how much of ourselves we should invest in this club.
If Milan are grooming players to sell them for high profits, then we are no different than Ajax, Porto, and Udinese. Ever since the summer of 2006, in the wake of calciopoli, clubs have sensed that with the right price they can buy Milan's best players. It seems the Milan management is faced with torrid tentazione (temptation) in the summers, and Milan fans have to suffer the speculation and hang on every word Galliani says. Andriy Shevchenko was sold because he wanted to leave--fair enough. Kaka, Thiago Silva and Zlatan Ibrahimovic were sold to settle debts--also fair enough (just about).
Now, Milan have no debt--except to us as fans, who have had to endure a massive upheaval at the club to finally see a coherent team rise to the top, one built on fiscal sanity. There would simply be no excuse to sell El Shaarawy.
The good thing is the test for our management has come early. We will not have to wait long to see if they mean what they say.