Stephan El Shaarawy has become the latest player to leave one of Europe's major leagues to take up a lucrative contract in China by signing for Shanghai Greenland Shenhua from Roma on Monday.
The Italian international had one of the best seasons of his career last year, netting 11 goals for the Giallorossi. That was just the second time in his career that he reached double figures in the league, with the 16 he scored for AC Milan in 2012/13 his career high.
Starting at Genoa
El Shaarawy came through the youth system at Genoa after joining as a 14-year-old. He made his first-team debut two years later but struggled for a regular place in the team. He was loaned to Serie B side, Padova in 2010/11 which is where he made his breakthrough. His form for them, which won him the Serie B Player of the Year award, led to AC Milan spending €15.5 million on the winger.
The Rossoneri had high hopes for the young El Shaaraway and although he wasn't great in his first season, he hit form in that second season with the 16 goals mentioned above. Unfortunately, that was as good as it got in Milan as injuries held him back and he struggled for two years before being loaned to Monaco.
After half a season with Monaco, he returned to Serie A for a loan spell with Roma. He found form in the capital and scored eight goals in 16 league games which led to Roma spending €13 million on the wide man.
El Shaarawy was once thought to be a potential Azzurri star. He represented the national team at most levels from under-16 up and has 23 caps for the senior team but his last appearance came in the game against Sweden that led to Italy being knocked out of the 2018 World Cup. He has been in the squad a few times in the last few months but failed to get onto the pitch.
The winger will now join Shanghai Greenland Shenhua for €16 million. Some other well-known names at the club include Odion Ighalo, Fredy Guarin, Giovani Moreno, and Oscar Romero. This season hasn't been going well for Shanghai and they sit 14th out of 16 teams so El Shaarawy will have to hit the ground running as they look to stave off the threat of relegation.