Shanghai (AFP) – Brazilian star Alexandre Pato refuses to give up hope of a recall to the national side, saying he’s at the peak of his career following his move to China.
The 27-year-old forward is enjoying football and life again in the Chinese Super League, having signed for Tianjin Quanjian on an 18-million-euro transfer from Villarreal in Spain in January.
Pato’s career was in freefall prior to the move, but the one-time teen prodigy and former AC Milan player has prospered in the CSL, scoring 12 goals in 20 games and staying free of serious injury.
That sparked talk of a return to one of Europe’s top leagues and a possible international recall, four years after his last cap for Brazil.
“Of course I won’t give up on my wish to get back into the Brazilian national team and I hope to be able to get back in,” Pato told the Chinese football website Dongqiudi.
“When I was leaving Villarreal someone told me that if I chose China I would be saying goodbye to the Brazilian national team and mainstream football leagues.
“But I didn’t care as I thought Chinese football had a lot of potential and room for development,” he said in the comments published on Monday.
“I had two offers at the time: Tianjin Quanjian and another club, and I thought my decision to come here was correct.”
This week another Brazilian, Paulinho, was snapped up by Barcelona from Guangzhou Evergrande for 40 million euros, proving that the CSL is no career-killer.
Pato, who rose to stardom at AC Milan before injuries took their toll, has played 27 times for his country, scoring 10 goals.
But he has not appeared in the famous yellow and blue since 2013.
The former boy wonder says he has tweaked his game in a bid to stay fit.
“When I was younger I had much more explosive power and speed, but I got injured a lot of the time because of this,” he said.
“Now I don’t rely so much on speed and power. I feel that I’m at the peak of my career now because I’m well prepared both physically and mentally, and I like my playing style right now.”