It feels like forever since Stephan El Shaarawy laced up his boots for Milan.
The striker is currently in rehabilitation process, after an injury blow led to an unsuccessful surgery on his right foot. El Shaarawy hasn't featured for Milan at all in 2014 -- dealing with nagging issues that kept him out since the latter half of 2013.
The good news is he's expected to make his return soon, embarking on a fresh journey under new coach Clarence Seedorf.
However, what can we expect from the dynamic striker?
In 2012-2013, El Shaarawy scored 19 goals in all competitions, making his presence felt as one of the most successful young players in Milan's history. The club had just dealt Zlatan Ibrahimovic to Paris St-Germain and the Italian international performed well under the spotlight.
Before the tiresome and aggravating injuries commenced, Milan brought in Mario Balotelli and that's where things turned a bit sour for the former Genoa player.
Not because Balotelli and El Shaarawy had some sort of a beef -- they were simply unable to click from the get-go. Balotelli immediately became Milan's top dog and although the chance to form a great partnership with El Shaarawy was there, the 21-year old couldn't get into his groove.
This led to Massimiliano Allegri falling out of favor with El Shaarawy and then injury issues commenced.
Now, maybe the 4-2-3-1 isn't the perfect formation for the team, but El Shaarawy sure is deadly on the left wing. If Seedorf continues to use this formation, El Shaarawy could make beautiful sequences happen on that left flank.
With that being said, how will he look in his comeback?
Milan certainly can't afford to rush the young stud back from such a long time on the sidelines -- after all, Alexandre Pato became a victim of the constant injury bug, forcing Milan to part ways with the Brazilian (even though some would say Pato had all the chances in the world to live up to his hype).
With time serving as a factor, Milan should be patient with the returning forward, but at the same time, they could use him more than ever right now.
Another important factor to consider is who he plays with. Does El Shaarawy partner up with the likes of Kaka and Adel Taarabt, or should he be playing up front? Should he be in more of a central role? Do you see him gelling with someone like Kesuke Honda?
What about him forming a partnership with Balotelli and giving that another chance, or even Giampaolo Pazzini?
Could El Shaarawy be reduced as a super sub?
There is plenty of uncertainty revolving around the Savona-born player. Who knows...maybe the club will even offload him in the summer, if he doesn't fit according to plans (even though it's highly unlikely, you never know with this current Milan side).
What do you think?
Give us your take in the comments section -- your two cents on where El Shaarawy would fit best, as well as who he should be playing with.