Dismissing the El Shaarawy-Balotelli issue

Posted by Sumeet Paul

Giuseppe Bellini/Getty ImagesStephen El Shaarawy: Has a problem with his knees, not Balotelli

Equally as confused over the recent claims that Stephan El Shaarawy and Mario Balotelli are unable to effectively play together, Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani made two vital points on Wednesday ahead of a pivotal fortnight for the Rossoneri.

"I do not understand why you talk about incompatibility between El Shaarawy and Balotelli; one is a winger and the other is a striker. El Shaarawy has always played and now with the knee problems he must rest a little," he told reporters.

A lot has been made by the Italian media of the El Shaarawy-Balotelli partnership despite only being two games old, with many speculating that the pair fail to compliment each other's game. Considering that many raved so highly of the duo when they formed the Italian attack in the friendly against France, it's clear it is a consistency issue as opposed to anything deeper reaching.

While the new recruit Balotelli has scored three goals in two games since joining Milan, it is El Shaarawy who is currently suffering from a dip in form.

The real issue is that many have mistaken this dip as an inability to play alongside 'Super Mario'. In a recent interview with the Milan Channel, El Shaarawy dismissed the criticism while also revealing an injury issue that will require better management from Milan boss Massimiliano Allegri.

"The criticism we are getting seems a bit too much. We've only played two games together and we need time to settle. I have had problems with my knees for two or three seasons now, I can handle the problem, but every now and then it causes me annoyance."

El Shaarawy has fifteen goals after 24 league games and has undoubtedly been the star of the season so far. Ultimately, it was a necessity for him to both start and play as much as possible in the first-half of the season, considering his form and ability.

With the arrival of Balotelli, the 20-year-old must now be given some respite having carried the pressure of the club on his shoulders for almost five months. Also considering his tireless displays, which see him scurry up and down the left flank for the entirety of a game, Allegri should contemplate when to rest him in future games.

He may well be presented with the perfect opportunity as soon as this weekend, when Milan welcome Parma to San Siro before their Champions League clash with Barcelona. With Balotelli cup-tied next Wednesday the emphasis will be back on El Shaarawy to produce, therefore a place on the bench on Friday night would seem to be the most sensible option.

Given the cynicism within some parts of the media, any selection move from Allegri will perhaps give more fire to their claims of an issue between the pair. However, Milan will hopefully have enough without him to defeat Roberto Donadoni's side, giving El Shaarawy the weekend off to prepare for the biggest stage of all.

What do you make of the El-Shaarawy-Balotelli criticism? Should Allegri think about resting El Shaarawy?

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