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The El Shaarawy Catastrophe


This past mercato was as puzzling as any mercato since Galliani’s diabolical ascension to his autocratic reign of terror. Whereas he used to have a system of scouts and a Director of Sport who was actually involved in the transfer process, he has slowly but surely removed as many people from the decision making process as possible, leaving himself with almost absolute power. Which is why he also gets absolute blame from the fans. And while the Matri transfer may have been the gold standard for transfer fails to us fans, today I present to you a new gold standard in Galliani’s long list of epic fails: The El Shaarawy Catastrophe.

A gift to a rival... at a discount, even

As I mentioned on the last podcast, Milan paring the squad down to a reasonable 24-25 players was actually a smart thing to do after hemorrhaging more than a starting lineup’s worth of players every mercato for three and a half years. For that, I am grateful, even if I am quite certain it was motivated more by the failure of the Mr. Bee investment and lack of funds than actually doing the right thing for the club. Because if they had truly been doing the right thing for the club, they would have found at least one reinforcement for the midfield. But within this mercato was also one of the worst deals ever, and that was sending El Shaarawy to Roma.

First of all, we really needed El Shaarawy for depth. Certainly we could have used him on Sunday. He already belonged to us, knew the club, was fit, and could have hit the ground running at a time in the season where we are supposed to be poised to make a run for the Champions League. Why not keep him? Perhaps there were some preference issues from the player or maybe from Mihajlovic. But then why did Galliani say that El Shaarawy could stay if Adriano was sold? And if he needed to go, why sell to a direct rival? Why not loan him back to Genoa and sell him in the summer?

Don't trust that guy with anything valuable

Secondly, we lost money on the deal. We paid Genoa €20m in cash and players. (Actual amounts of cash/player value vary according to sources, but the total transfer was €20m) If Roma’s buyout clause is activated, they will reportedly be giving Milan €12-13m for him. Granted, he had the injury and surgery spells, and perhaps Monaco wasn’t the right fit for him. But we also know what he is capable of when fit, and now he is more mature and more experienced, too. So we should have at least broken even with him, if not made money. And if Roma had any players we could use, that would also have been an acceptable form of compensation. But to lose money on a player like this is ridiculous.

During the beginning of the transfer window, I asked my friend David of acmilanfinance.com an intriguing question: When was the last time that Milan even  made a profit on a transfer? He did a little research and found that the last time Milan made a profit was selling Mesbah to Parma. We had paid €1.2m for him, and sold him for €3m. Which, as David pointed out, may be the kind of deal that spelled Parma’s demise. For Milan, though, that was two and a half years ago, and making any profit was and still is an anomaly in our transfer dealings. With this in mind, it’s no wonder we could let a valuable young player like El Shaarawy go at a €7-8m loss. Particularly when you consider that Roma held us to paying full price (possibly over price): €45m for Bertolacci and Romagnoli just last summer.

Roma must be laughing so hard at Milan right now

The first two points make the deal just really poor business. But what makes the deal a catastrophe is that Galliani keeps insisting that we are vying for a Champions League spot. Roma are also vying for a spot, and are directly above us. Since we handed them El Shaarawy, they have gained nine points on the table. He scored two goals and an assist in those matches and is widely credited as one of the biggest reasons for their improved form. You see, their form was dipping and they were struggling before the move, now they are winning again.

No one can say for sure, but without El Shaarawy, it is likely that with our improved form, we could have not only caught but passed them by now in these three short games. Especially going back to my first point, where having him back at Milan could have meant two more points for us on Sunday alone. With five teams above us, we should not be helping any of them get to that third spot, especially at this point in the season. Unless of course, Galliani thinks that the only way to get rid of Mihajlovic, which Berlusconi clearly seems to want to do, is to completely undermine him by helping a team above us. Which is even more diabolical than him just doing this out of stupidity or desperation.

Being co-CEO for Milan wasn't enough, now he's helping Roma with their transfers

With Matri, we handed €11m over four years to a rival club for a player that was an epic fail. And we even paid part of his salary when we loaned him back to the club we bought him from. That is certainly horrible business. But that deal didn’t strengthen a rival at a time when our club were fighting for a third place finish. And we didn’t give away one of our best players and take a loss on him, too. I know the Matri deal was atrocious, but the El Shaarawy deal is a catastrophe. And at the end of the season if Roma are still ahead of us and we nearly make third but not quite, it will be even worse. But the best part of it is, the mastermind of this horrible crime is still reminding us every time someone will give him a microphone that the Champions League is our goal, even if he’s singlehandedly undermined our chances to reach that goal. That’s why this deal is the El Shaarawy Catastrophe.


This post inspired by the music of Jane’s Addiction’s “Been Caught Stealing”


Our next match is
Milan vs. Genoa
Sunday, February 14 • 12:30 CET (6:30am EST)