Skip to content

Please tell me this Stephan El Shaarawy transfer noise isn’t real

Jun 16, 2013, 10:50 PM EDT

Parma FC v AC Milan - Serie A Getty Images

I have this weird impression Milan’s a big club. Maybe that’s me being old, but throughout my lifetime, the Rossoneri have been one of Europe’s marquee clubs. Although financial considerations have tempered that reputation over the last few years, I’d have a difficult time naming 10 clubs in world soccer I thought players would like to play for before AC Milan.

But when you hear things like these Stephan El Shaarawy rumors, you wonder: Would a truly big, elite, near-the-top-of-the-pecking club even consider selling a 20-year-old who, after scoring 16 goals while seeing his first regular time in Serie A, earned a trip to Brazil with the Italian national team this summer? Barring some huge, unprecedented bid that would have the buying team assuming too much of the risk for a young player’s development, there’s no way players like El Shaarawy should move from club like Milan.

Yet here we are, with persistent rumors linking the young half-Egyptian attacker with a life beyond the San Siro. The whispers started in earnest last week and have persisted, with the most reported scenario having Manchester City make up part of Milan’s $53 million (€40 million) evaluation with Carlos Tévez. The Argentine’s inclusion would reportedly drop El Shaarawy’s price to $33 million.

That this rumor didn’t perish in a death of smoldering absurdity breaks my heart, because with the Rossonerin recent years having taken on the pricey likes of Ronaldinho and Robinho while being convinced to part with Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva, there seems to be some deranged string on which this reality might exist. Yet even in that world, there are reasons Milan should either hold on to their man or jack up the price:

  • El Shaarawy is on very low wages. He made just over $1 million last season. If Milan sell him, a big chunk of their intake will go straight into the wages needed to acquire an equivalent replacement.
  • And that replacement isn’t going to be a 20-year-old you know can perform for your coach, with your players, at your club. There’s a reason we’re even having this conversation, and it’s because those players a rare. Really, really, rare.
  • Players who are slightly more common: The Carlos Tévezes of the world. He’s a great player, but he’s also older and overpriced. He’ll make around $13.5 million this season. The difference in wages means, after three seasons, you’ve funneled the transfer fee into Tévez’s pocket. All your left with is the older and, by that time, likely inferior player.

Sometimes it’s difficult to come up with the astronomical fees players garner in the transfer market, but this scenario highlights how it works. Young players who are cheap, under contract, and highly productive save you a ton of money over the alternatives. You start with that difference and make some educated guesses as to their contributions to other goals (titles, league placements, European spots) and revenue streams (merchandise, ticket sales). Add in some market factors (scarcity, is he in the last year of his deal) and you get some high figures.

For El Shaarawy — a 20-year-old who’s giving peak-level output — the evaluation’s incredible high. It’s probably higher than the $53 million we’ve seen quoted. It’s definitely more than $33 million plus and overpriced Tevez.

The only teams that justify this kind of deal are teams that either (a) don’t have alternatives, or (b) have the type of real world cash considerations that force you to value the money above your club’s prestige. It’s not the move of one of an actor that’s trying to stay among the world’s marquee clubs.

Latest Posts
  1. Official: Andrea Pirlo announces his arrival at New York City FC (video)

    Jul 6, 2015, 11:01 AM EDT

    pirlo Getty Images

    Pirlo says an American arrival has been in the cards for a while.

  2. GLORY IN PHOTOS: Our favorite shots from the USWNT’s winning evening in Vancouver

    Jul 6, 2015, 9:51 AM EDT

    VANCOUVER, BC - JULY 05:  Julie Johnston #19 of United States of America celebrates after winning the  FIFA Women's World Cup 2015 final match between USA and Japan at BC Place Stadium on July 5, 2015 in Vancouver, Canada.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images) Getty Images

    Plenty more flag-waving winners, emotional players, and post-World Cup couple smooches leap off the Women’s World Cup wire. Shall we look at a few?

  3. With legendary Wambach serving as super sub, the USWNT spun a team title tale

    Jul 6, 2015, 9:17 AM EDT

    USA's head coach Jill Ells (R) celebrate their win over Japan with Abby Wambach after the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup final at BC Place Stadium in Vancouver, British Columbia on July 5, 2015.   AFP PHOTO/NICHOLAS KAMM        (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

    The U.S. women are World Cup champions for the third time thanks to a full team effort that belied its star-first reputation.

  4. CONCACAF lays out reform plan post-scandal: “People are right to be skeptical”

    Jul 6, 2015, 8:23 AM EDT

    MIAMI BEACH, FL - MAY 27:  FBI agents carry boxes from the headquarters of CONCACAF after it was raided on May 27, 2015 in Miami Beach, Florida. The raid is part of an international investigation of FIFA where nine FIFA officials and five corporate executives were charged with racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering conspiracies.  (Photo by Joe Skipper/Getty Images) Getty Images

    CONCACAF lawyer Sam Gandhi’s tone hits all the right conciliatory notes, something that FIFA has been unable to do it in its response under Sepp Blatter.

  5. Southampton, Atletico Madrid in legal battle over Alderweireld rights as Spurs, City wait

    Jul 6, 2015, 7:57 AM EDT

    Aston Villa v Southampton - Premier League Getty Images

    Despite the love heaped on Clyne and Ryan Bertrand last season, Alderweireld was perhaps only second to Jose Fonte in the Saints’ defensive performance pecking order.

  6. United States women overcame growing pains to peak when it mattered

    Jul 6, 2015, 3:06 AM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    The U.S. women always said they would peak at the right moment, and they did exactly that.

  7. Set pieces prove to be Japan’s undoing in Women’s World Cup final loss

    Jul 6, 2015, 2:41 AM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Japan came out shockingly flat in the World Cup final, conceding four goals in 16 minutes.

  8. Carli Lloyd proves she’s the Women’s World Cup hero she always knew she would be

    Jul 6, 2015, 1:54 AM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Carli Lloyd said she wanted to be the best in the world. On Sunday, she proved it.

  9. PHOTOS: Celebration abundant on social media following U.S. World Cup win

    Jul 6, 2015, 12:31 AM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Take a look at the aftermath of the United States’ World Cup win over Japan.

  10. Mission accomplished: Abby Wambach gets her World Cup title

    Jul 6, 2015, 12:03 AM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Abby Wambach longed for a World Cup title for over a decade. On Sunday, she finally lifted the trophy.

  11. Nani relishing “new opportunity” with move to Turkish club Fenerbahce

    Jul 5, 2015, 11:10 PM EDT

    FBL-POR-LIGA-SPORTING-RIO AVE Getty Images

    Former Manchester United midfielder Nani is prepared for a fresh start in Turkey.

  12. United States wins third Women’s World Cup title, beats Japan on record-smashing day

    Jul 5, 2015, 8:51 PM EDT

    VANCOUVER, BC - JULY 05:  Carli Lloyd #10 of the United States celebrates scoring the opening goal against Japan in the FIFA Women's World Cup Canada 2015 Final at BC Place Stadium on July 5, 2015 in Vancouver, Canada.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Carli Lloyd’s hat trick and the United States’ win smashed just about every record in a huge win over Japan in the Women’s World Cup final.

  13. VIDEO: Lloyd seals amazing 16 minute hat trick with wonder goal from halfway

    Jul 5, 2015, 7:45 PM EDT

    Carli Lloyd, Lauren Holiday, Megan Rapinoe Carli Lloyd, Lauren Holiday, Megan Rapinoe

    Watch Lloyd score three times, as U.S. raced into a 4-0 lead inside the first 20 minutes.

  14. Inter Milan call out Fiorentina regarding Mohamed Salah’s transfer controversy

    Jul 5, 2015, 7:16 PM EDT

    Mohamed Salah has scored three times in his first four matches since moving to Fiorentina from Chelsea. AP

    Inter Milan released a statement defending itself as Fiorentina vice president Paolo Panerai criticized his rival in the midst of Mohamed Salah’s transfer situation.

Featured video

PST Extra: Done deals & transfer gossip