If reports are to be believed, Chelsea are close to completing the signing of Alexandre Pato from Corinthians.
To find out more about the striker we spoke to popular Brazilian Twitter account @BrazilStats, he explains why Pato’s time in Brazil was a mixed one, and explains how he might be a success at Chelsea.
Alexandre Pato is widely expected to join Chelsea, why was he no longer wanted in Brazil?
When Corinthians signed Pato in January 2013, it was the highest fee that a Brazilian club ever paid to sign a player (€15M), and he arrived with the reputation of a star who scored important goals against some of the biggest European teams such as Real Madrid, Barcelona and Internazionale. So the expectations of Alexandre tearing Brazilian defenses apart were obviously very high.
Corinthians had just won the FIFA Club World Cup a month earlier, so their fans wanted the team to build on that in order to achieve the same success in the following year. In the end, Pato never lived up to the expectations, missed a sitter against Boca Juniors in Libertadores round of 16, before trying a panenka against Dida in the shootout of the Copa do Brasil quarter-final, which cost Corinthians the qualification. Coach Tite quickly described Alexandre as “careless kid” right after the elimination.
The fans had already started losing patience on the player, and attending a Beyoncé concert hours after Corinthians’ defeat to Goias in the league, did not help improve his image in front of them. To conclude, Pato was a failure at Corinthians, so an exchange loan deal was struck in February 2014, which saw him move to one of the team’s biggest arch rivals, Sao Paulo (on the other hand, Jadson moved the other way). The loan deal lasted for 2 years, and during this period, Pato was rejuvenated as a prolific goalscorer and kept scoring plenty of goals for Corinthians’ big rivals.
So this obviously made Corinthians fans hate him even more. They had paid a record to sign him, and then the team entered difficult financial situations, being forced to let go of key players. All in all, people blamed Pato for this. Corinthians decided to sell him as soon as possible to try and recuperate some of what they paid on him in 2013. Pato’s current contract expires in December.
Is the risk of giving another chance to player hated by the fans worth it? Keep in mind that Alexandre made it clear he dreams of coming back to Europe, so it’s almost certain he’d have left Corinthians for free at the end of the year. All in all, selling him now for around 15 million Euros would be a dream come true.
How would you describe his time in Brazil?
All in all, I would say that despite the very bad start, Pato ended 2015 with a personal goal scoring record of 26 hits. It’s worth pointing out that his level notably improved after Sao Paulo appointed Mexican coach Osorio, who decided to switch him from the number nine role, and place out on the left-hand side, where he found more freedom to use his pace instead of being stuck inside the box and waiting for the ball. Pato thrived in this role, and even managed to convince several Brazilian journalists that he deserves a call-up for the national team.
A big concern for Chelsea will be his injury history. Has he suffered from injuries in Brazil?
Concerning his injury record, the player has not suffered any serious injury during his three-year spell in Brazilian football. Note that Brazilian clubs normally give players more time to recuperate from injuries, whereas some European clubs, especially Milan, tend to rush their players before the right time.
The same happened with Renato Augusto who shone in Germany but had to leave Leverkusen after he suffered several injuries. He’s been at Corinthians for a couple of years, and his injury record has notably improved; he was able to make his comeback to the national team and scored in Brazil’s last game against Peru. Right after the match, he thanked Corinthians for treating his injury and helping him rediscover his old form.
His attitude has been questioned, how was it in Brazil? Will it improve in a league like the Premier League where he has a point to prove?
England is a very physical place. I don’t see Pato achieving big success there as a nine, especially if he’s stuck in the box between tall and strong defenders. I would expect him to struggle with the aggressiveness.
On the other hand, if he was given freedom to drop deep or drift wide, Alex is a player who likes to play short passes, layoffs, make crosses etc, so he could be helpful. He has enough pace to take on opponents, he is technically good, but he tends to have that awkward miss from time to time. Otherwise, if he receives enough scoring chances from Chelsea’s creative players, I’d expect him to turn out to be a decent squad rotation player – not below the average, nor as good as he used to be at Milan.
He’s 26 now, can he make an impact in the Premier League?
Considering the transfer sum being talked of, I think that the gamble is minimal. Alex won’t be earning a very high salary either, and you could always count on selling him to a Chinese club in case of failure in adaptation.
Luiz Adriano has reached an agreement to join China for 14 million Euros, after joining Milan last summer for just eight million. I don’t see Chelsea losing a lot if they give Pato a chance. In the end, he turned down the chance of becoming the 4th highest paid player in the world, because he wanted to achieve his dream to play in England rather than fade away from the big scene and go to China. This, if anything, shows how much Pato will be willing to dedicate himself as a professional if the deal happened.
How do you expect him to do at Chelsea?
Last but not least, if I was Chelsea’s director, responsible for giving the green light for the transfer, and for this reported fee of 15 million Euros, I would definitely give Pato the chance to prove himself again. At the same time, I wouldn’t expect him to do miracles, let’s not forget that he is being signed as Diego Costa’s backup.