(SOURCE: La Gazzetta dello Sport, 3 August edition + online)
Here is a translation of the full interview with Stephan El Shaarawy, feature in the Sat 3 August edition of La Gazzetta, and on their website.
How did you feel when Galliani declared that you were transferable, or at least not unsellable?
“I was always convinced to stay. We spoke and we decided to continue this path together. It was a decision from the two of us – easy to take.”
Maybe there was not a possibility with a great club, but there was that of a high salary. There was a lot of money at stake also for you – why give that up?
“Because I have always been a Milan fan, because for me it was a fantastic season and I would like to make a piece of history at the club.”
The next goal is to be declared as non-transferable?
“The next objective is, above all, to qualify for the Champions League, and then to score many goals in the way I scored last season during the andata. This way maybe they will declare me as non-transferable.”
Galliani has said one of the most important things of the Audi Cup was your return to the goals [El Shaarawy scored twice in the 5-3 loss against Man City] – you have been freed, it is a good sign…
“Yes, and I left [the pitch] to the applause of the crowd. I was content, even if obviously on that occasion the bitterness remained for the match lost against Man City. However, they were important goals for morale. I want to start well again, better than how I finished [the previous season], and I hope to stay at Milan for a long time.”
Milan is searching for new tactical solutions and you will have to adapt.
“I am ready to do it. It is logical that you find I am better starting from the left because I started as a wide attacker. But I have already played as a second striker and Allegri has asked me many times to stay more to the centre, to be close to the striker – in short, to stay alive in the game. I will do so.”
The end of the season did not go well – not even the Confederations Cup. In Brazil, Prandelli said that you were ‘empty’.
“Prandelli had seen that I was not in place – I was in a moment of decline mentally and physically, he did not want to put more pressure on me. It was all very normal. Moving from being the top scorer to not scoring any more goals was difficult, but it is in the past.”
There has been a lot written about your crisis. Something in particular that has made you suffer?
“No, I was not worried. I always remained serene. We were very content with the third place we achieved. The goals, for me, did not matter much.”
For your long pause there are many explanations – the difficulty from the arrival of Balotelli, your bad knee, the opponents that had learned to know you, the fact that you were a little big-headed…
“I would exclude almost all of those. The hurts every now and again but we manage it well, Balotelli is a friend, and I do not have a big head. As for the opposition defenders – it is clear that after 16 goals they have learned a little, and therefore there remained Allegri who was asking me to change the way I play a little.”
Regarding Balotelli – there was the impression that the more things that went wrong for you, the more Mario tried to protect you, to form an inseparable duo with you. Is that so?
“Mario has always been a friend more than a teammate. I have always been close and I have never paid any attention to the talk that was made about my difficulties being linked to his presence. I have always thought I do well with him as without him, and he always gave me confidence like all the teammates at the club, and this support has helped me a lot.”
What else is needed to maintain the balance?
“The advice and unconditional support of my family – important for my equilibrium.”
Now there is another kid who goes through the phase of regression – Niang.
“He has already demonstrate to be up to the level of Serie A, but he needs time. I think that M’Baye can give much to Milan.”
Milan remain more or less the same time, for now…
“I saw that we are already competitive this way. We are a united group that know how to overcome difficulties. In the past season we had a goal and we have reached it. Then, if someone will arrive we will be better.”
The World Cup is one more motivation to try to return to a high level in these months?
“I will think about it a lot. Now, I think of the Champions League play-off, the most important match of our season.”
What things have you learned in your first true year at Milan?
“That things change quickly in football you always need to keep your feet on the ground. Do not get excited when all goes well and do not get depressed when you go from hero to zero.”
They seem like Allegri phrases. Tell us the truth about your relationship with the coach. Did you not feel disappointed, a little let down sometimes after having spent many nice words on him?
“We have never had a problem. Before the match with Napoli he called me and told me his ideas. I accepted his decisions, just as I will adapt to the change of formation. We have never clashed I have never felt disappointed. I was aware that I was not the same El Shaarawy from the andata.”
But was it not embarrassing for you to become the cause of the problem? It seemed that Berlusconi was ready to sack Allegri because he did not like the management of El Shaarawy…
“Let’s say that Berlusconi was a little on edge, but it was only about one game. There was so much chaos around Allegri’s choices that did not have to be made. And then Robinho played in my place against Napoli – hardly an ordinary player. No, I have always remained calm. I am well here. I want to return fully to what I was some time ago.”