It seemed unthinkable after Euro 2012, but just one short season later, AC Milan are hinting that Stephan El Shaarawy could be for sale.
El Shaarawy burst onto the scene two seasons ago, and after the Rossoneri sold Zlatan Ibrahimovic, he appeared to have a long future at the San Siro.
When Mario Balotelli joined Milan from Manchester City, the Italian football media went crazy with stories about how the club now possessed the striking lifeblood of Italian football.
And when the duo performed so brightly in firing Italy to the Euro 2012 final, El Shaarawy’s status as one of Italy’s ‘It’ players was cemented.
The 20-year-old did little wrong last season, even if his goalscoring form did dry up drastically after a 16-goal burst before February.
He continues to be a key member of the Italy squad, and has seen his value sky rocket to €40 million.
But with Paris Saint-Germain, Monaco and Manchester City all reportedly keen on signing El Shaarawy, he could be in line for a shock early exit from Milan.
The club’s vice-president, Adriano Galliani, has worked hard to tie down Mario Balotelli and Giampaolo Pazzini ahead of next season, and is scheduled to talk to El Shaarawy now that he is returning from the Confederations Cup.
Milan’s fans would dearly love for the young striker to stay, but the sales of Ibra and Thiago Silva have alerted them to the club’s almost desperate new ruthlessness in the transfer market.
And Galliani has admitted that Milan may need to sell again before they can buy the players necessary to bolster their Serie A challenge.
"I’m going to talk to him [El Shaarawy] on Tuesday," he told Sky Sports Italia.
"We’ve got lots of players and before we can buy anybody, we’ve got to sell."