Alexandre Pato went from the most exciting teenage soccer prospects at Milan to a Corinthians striker targeted by irate fans at the Brazilian club, so what happened with Pato and why is he now hated by every Corinthians fan?
At 16 years old, Pato signed for Internacional and managed to feature ten times for the team, scoring seven goals. The teen had talent, pace, skill and could finish. After he impressed in his short stint with Internacional, Italian giants AC Milan came in for the Brazilian wonder kid. A £19million bid brought Alexandre Pato to the San Siro as a Rossoneri player. He arrived in Italy amidst a spread of publicity. He was labeled as the most exciting teenage talent in world soccer.
Due to FIFA regulations, the player couldn’t feature until January 2008 after he signed in 2007. On the 4th January 2008, Pato’s transfer to the Red and Blacks was made official and the Brazilian became a Milan player. Pato’s first game came against Napoli. The 18 year old started up front with compatriot Ronaldo, who put two past Napoli. Pato managed to light up the game with his pace and his skill. He terrorized the Partenopei defense from start to finish. Pato grabbed a debut goal when he latched onto a punt from the defense and took it in his stride and coolly slotted it under the advancing goalkeeper. The Rossoneri faithful felt that night that they had an incredible talent on their side. He would score 8 more times before the season was out and had formed an incredible partnership with Ronaldo and Kaka.
The next season, Pato netted 18 goals in all competitions, while former Milan talisman Andriy Shevchenko only managed two after returning from a very unsuccessful time at Chelsea. It was known that not only had Pato inherited the Ukrainian’s number 7 jersey but he had cemented himself as Milan’s future talisman. He featured 36 times during the 2008-09 season. Regrettably, since then, he became hindered with injuries at Milan. Many people began to think that Max Allegri and his fitness staff didn’t nurture him correctly and that they failed to develop his fitness and health correctly, which is why he struggled with injuries. However it’s only a theory that not many agree to.
In 2010, he was named the Serie A Young Player of the Year, the first Brazilian to claim the award, but a lot of people could see that he had major problems with muscular-focused injuries. When he was fit, though, he continued to impress in his Serie A games. He scored 14 goals in 25 appearances in the 2009/10 season but he had a hamstring injury on the same leg three times in the space of 12 months. Everyone was reminded of the spark Pato had when the Rossoneri faced FC Barcelona in the Champions League at the Camp Nou. He left Barca’s defense trailing behind him after a quick turn of pace in the midfield and then burst through the back line to break through on goal, where he calmly slotted the ball through Victor Valdes’ legs. It was a wonderful solo effort that showed everyone watching the amount of talent he has, but the downside remained that injuries were coming more frequently than goals.
In 2012-13, Pato only managed to register four appearances for Milan because his season was hindered with thigh injuries. The medical staff said that they simply could not come up with a diagnosis for his frequent injuries. After being sent to the US to seek treatment which wasn’t successful, Milan owner Silvio Berlusconi admitted, “Pato is a problem. We really hope that he can fully recover from all these injuries. It is a problem because he was the one Milan player with the brightest future ahead of him.”
There was a suspicion that without the injuries, would Pato have excelled and developed as well as he could have? If the defense didn’t give him space to run behind them, he struggled due the fact that he is majorly one footed and average in the air. Suspicions stated that Pato didn’t have the footballing knowledge to develop his game to adapt to situations where he can’t rely on his explosive pace.
Milan made a €7million loss on the player when he was bought by Brazilian team Corinthians. One side of the argument from this was that he moved to Brazil to try and break into the Brazil squad for the World Cup in 2014. He didn’t make it into Luis Felipe Scolari’s squad but many, including me, think that Scolari was too stubborn to look past his favored strikers Fred and Jo who put in dreadful performances in Brazil and ended up relying too heavily on Neymar to score goals because their chosen strikers just couldn’t provide them. People disliked Fred’s form so much that he was booed off the pitch various times. So why didn’t Scolari take Pato? I could almost guarantee he could have brought more goals than either of the two did.
His time at Corinthians ended on a poor note. He managed to score 19 goals in 28 appearances for the Brazilian club but his career at Corinthians ultimately failed when the fans rebelled against him. In the Brazil Cup, Pato tried a Panenka-style penalty in the penalty shootout. The result was a miss, and, as as result, the team lost. He tried to chip the ball down the middle of the goal, only to see the keeper save the ball, which him left red faced with embarrassment and Corinthians out of the cup. Not surprisingly, this did not go down well with the Corinthians fans. The fans reacted negatively with many promising revenge. Pato, understandably, did not feel safe. And as a result he had to move. Sao Paulo moved in and he was taken on loan for two years (he is currently still serving his loan spell).
Alexandre Pato was and has been targeted by many Premier League teams including Arsenal and Tottenham. In the past, Tottenham launched a bid for him but it failed. He said that a return to Europe wasn’t so attractive. He told Sportv: “I received offers. They contacted Corinthians, sent a fax, to sign me in the window. But I sat down with the staff, talked to my agent and I told them I wanted to stay. I wanted to help Corinthians fight for a place in the Libertadores.” Tottenham launched the original bid back in 2013 and are rumored to be interested in the Brazilian forward again. If so, they face a battle with other Premier League clubs now that it has been revealed Corinthians will sell him for £8m. Surely a bargain?
In recent reports, Italian side Internazionale have been reported to be interested in the striker but Pato’s agent has revealed he has had no recent contact with Inter.
Now the future of Alexandre Pato hangs in the balance. Will he leave Brazil and come to England or Italy? From world soccer’s next big thing to being hindered by injuries, and then being a footballer hated by fans of Corinthians. What’s next for Alexandre Pato?