AC Milan manager Massimiliano Allegri has warned the rest of Serie A that Stephan El Shaarawy is back to his best on the back of a morale-boosting preseason.
The Italy forward was the Rossoneri's standout performer in the first half of last season, but his form dipped dramatically after Christmas following the arrival of Mario Balotelli.
Milan kicks off its Serie A season with a trip to Hellas Verona on Saturday as they look to improve on last term's third placed finish and Allegri has backed El Shaarawy to fire once again.
"Stephan is doing much better at the moment, the two goals scored in Germany, the good performance in America and the midweek goal have been good for him psychologically," Allegri told reporters at a press conference. "He’s the same player he was last season. At 20 years of age, it’s not easy to find yourself under the media spotlight as he did last season."
"He hasn’t been up to his own high standards in the last two months, but that just shows that in football, every day is a new test, especially in a team like Milan which always plays to win."
Despite the San Siro side being quiet for the majority of this summer's transfer market, Allegri insists he is happy with the squad at his disposal and says he is letting the club's hierarchy deal with transfer negotiations, while tipping one of the club's youngsters to make an impact.
"That’s up to the club (transfers) and they know what they’re doing. [Andrea] Petagna is a young player but he can give us a hand," Allegri said. "We hope to have [Giampaolo] Pazzini back for the end of October. He’s important for us.”
Allegri also revealed that Christian Abate will start on Saturday, with Mattia De Sciglio still not match fit, while Daniele Bonera and Jherson Vergara join Pazzini on the sidelines.