Linked with a return to the Roman club, the winger confirmed a move almost came to pass
El Shaarawy, who left Roma for Shanghai Shenhua last year, was heavily linked with a return, but no move was completed.
A 25-time Italy international, the attacker said he was prepared to return amid interest from two Serie A clubs, including Roma.
“There was the possibility of returning to Italy,” El Shaarawy told Fabio Cannavaro during an Instagram Live chat on Sunday.
“When the virus broke out, I had spoken to the club saying that I needed to play to earn a place in the European Championship.
“Having already had a great consideration from [Italy coach Roberto] Mancini despite my move to China, I was ready to return to play regularly, but then nothing was done.
“There had been contacts with two teams. One was Roma.”
El Shaarawy moved to the Chinese Super League (CSL) club from Roma in the summer for a reported €16 million (£14m/$18m) fee.
The 27-year-old had initially said he was too young to move to China before having a change of heart.
While El Shaarawy scored in Shanghai’s Chinese FA Cup triumph in December, he has generally struggled in his Far East stint with only one league strike in 10 games.
He began his career with Genoa but made only four appearances for the club before first making his mark on loan with Padova where he scored nine goals in 29 games.
That was enough to earn a move to AC Milan in 2011 where he scored 21 goals in 82 appearances before loan spells with Monaco and then Roma which eventually became permanent.
The Legino youth product ended up with 40 goals across four seasons for the Italian capital club.
El Shaarawy was qualified to play for Egypt but decided to link up with Italy at Under-17 level before making his senior international debut in a 2-1 friendly defeat by England in August 2012.
He scored his first goal for his country against France in his third appearance and has scored four times in his 25 outings to date.