In a bitterly disappointing move, AC Milan opted to sell Stephan El Shaarawy to AS Monaco earlier this week. The 22-year-old joins the French side on an initial loan deal with a mandatory option to buy, thus effectively ending his time at San Siro.
Given that El Shaarawy was such a popular figure among Milan fans, it's difficult for them to assess his departure objectively and in turn give a fair assessment of the club's decision.
Even after a season where his struggles with injury played a big part in the club's disappointing 10th place finish, the supporters gave the Italian international their support throughout and he endeared himself to them as well. So it's no surprise that he bid farewell to them in social media after his move to Ligue 1.
"Finally, I must thank you, the fans, last but not least... in fact, unique and special...Thank you for the affection you've always shown in every occasion, above all in the negative periods," he ended an emotional post on Instagram.
"And thank you for the wonderful words and messages that even today, despite the fact I have changed shirts, I will carry them in my heart forever."
In questo momento mi riesce davvero difficile trovare le parole per descrivere il mio stato d'animo...è successo tutto molto in fretta e in 24 ore mi sono ritrovato a dover prendere una decisione che sono certo possa essere la più giusta per me e per la mia carriera. Non credo serva sottolineare quanto io sia dispiaciuto nel lasciare una società come il Milan e i suoi tifosi. Oltre al fatto che sono sin da piccolo legato a questi colori, è difficile lasciare una società che mi ha sempre dato sostegno e fiducia anche nei momenti peggiori. Credo però sia arrivato per me il momento di svoltare e intraprendere una nuova sfida professionale con grinta e massimo entusiasmo. Mi dispiace, inoltre, non aver potuto dare il mio totale contributo, a causa degli infortuni, nelle ultime due stagioni...ma ho sempre onorato e rispettato questa maglia, dal primo all'ultimo giorno. Questi quattro anni mi hanno dato tantissimo, mi hanno fatto crescere, mi hanno arricchito calcisticamente e umanamente. Ringrazio il MILAN, tutti i membri dello staff e tutti i miei compagni di queste stagioni; tante vittorie, altrettante sconfitte ma sempre accanto a grandi persone, conserverò ogni insegnamento ed ogni consiglio ricevuto. E Infine non mi resta che ringraziare voi, TIFOSI, ultimi non per ordine d'importanza ma anzi... unici e speciali... Grazie per l'affetto che mi avete sempre trasmesso in ogni occasione soprattutto nei periodi negativi...E grazie per le belle parole e i tanti messaggi che ancora oggi, nonostante abbia cambiato maglia, continuate ad inviarmi...li porterò sempre nel cuore Grazie davvero a tutti. Au revoir STEPHAN EL SHAARAWY
A photo posted by Stephan El Shaarawy (@stewel92) on
AC Milan also shared a fond exchange with Shaarawy after his exit, with both thanking each other for their contributions to their respective causes. However, after all of the gratitude shown, it's now time to consider whether or not the club is making a huge mistake in letting the forward leave or merely allowed a talented player to fulfill his ability elsewhere.
- AC Milan (@acmilan) July 13, 2015
El Shaarawy's injuries over the past two seasons, which limited him to only 28 appearances in all competitions, have certainly raised question marks over whether or not he can physically be a reliable presence in the side.
A reoccurring foot problem as well as other strains and knocks severely limited him more recently, and that arguably had some bearing in the decision to allow him to join Monaco.
Further, there were also question marks over his ability to adapt to a new role in manager Sinisa Mihajlovic's 4-3-1-2 system.
The Serbian tactician suggested in his introductory press conference that El Shaarawy would play in a midfield role, and even though the player insisted he would adjust his game, it likely wasn't enough to convince the management to keep him.
Now this isn't a question of whether or not he succeeds in Ligue 1 and proves that it was a mistake to sell. Milan have experienced this before with the likes of right-back Matteo Darmian and striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Darmian only made four league appearances as a teenager before excelling at Torino and earning a high-profile move to Manchester United this summer. Aubameyang was at Milan from 2008-11 but never played at Milan and is coming off of a 26-goal season for Dortmund.
Even though their raw talent can be identified immediately, a fresh start for those players, along with a new environment and a favourable system can all contribute to things clicking into place elsewhere where it couldn't at Milan.
Now, the question remains of whether or not El Shaarawy still had something to offer the Rossoneri, especially since he had already proven before his spell with injuries that he could play an important role. Are Milan quitting on him too soon?
Many of the club's fans will argue that the likes of Alessio Cerci and Jeremy Menez should have been sacrificed instead. Furthermore, they'll wonder if CEO Adriano Galliani made another embarrassing mistake in the market.
Still, it is assumed that El Shaarawy's sale would not only open up space in the squad given the number of attacking players available to Mihajlovic, but also help fund their other moves this summer.
However, with Roma continuing to dismiss Milan's offers for Alessio Romagnoli and PSG manager Laurent Blanc insisting that Zlatan Ibrahimovic will be in Paris next season, where will Milan get their reinforcements from?
After an impressive period of work in the market at the end of last month, bringing in Carlos Bacca, Luiz Adriano among others, El Shaarawy's exit may not undo it all of the goodwill, but it certainly dampens the mood for supporters who had hoped to see 'Il Faraone' in the Red and Black colours for many more years.