WHO IS ALEXANDRE PATO?
Alexandre Pato. Aka "The Duck".
The name means many different things depending on who you ask.
Ask a FIFA player, and he is remembered as a legend. He was a god on FIFA 10 and FIFA 11, an unstoppable mixture of pace, finishing, and dribbling. He was the player you saw in just about every Serie A side, and in every sweaty-pace Brazilian team, on Ultimate Team that year. Five-star rating for his left foot, four-star rating for skill moves....I probably scored five hundred goals with him that year, and that might be a low estimate.
Ask an AC Milan fan (such as myself), and the name is synonymous with that "what could have been" feeling. The one you get when brilliant young talent intertwines with injuries and a lack of commitment. When he burst onto the scene for the Rossoneri in early 2008, he was a very promising talent. Fast, agile, and with a nose for goal, Pato endeared himself to the Milan fans and had the Curva Sud singing his name. He lead Milan in scoring in the 2008-09 season and was named the 2009 Serie A Young Footballer of the year.
And then the injuries started.
When I say injuries, I mean a lot of them. Especially his hamstrings. I'm not sure that he has hamstrings anymore, to be honest.
Pato was hurt so often, he made Michael Owen seem like a beacon of fitness.
It wasn't just the injuries, though. In 2011, while he was struggling to overcome yet another injury to his hamstring, it became public that he was dating Barbara Berlusconi. As in, the daughter of the owner of AC Milan. Which led to more problems--the biggest one being that while his form took a nosedive and his fitness continued to erode, his name was always on the team sheet. This led to numerous problems in the locker room, as well as numerous questions about his dedication to the sport after high-profile nights spent partying and drinking.
Ask a fan of Brazilian soccer, and you could find love, hate, and indifference. His international career began with much promise, but just like his time at Milan he faded and became an after thought. It has been nearly three years since he was last selected for the national team. His return to the Brazilian Serie A in 2013 was viewed as something that could possibly jump-start his career, but it has not.
Pato has missed thirty-three "clear cut" goal scoring opportunities since arriving in Brazil, the most by far of anybody in the league. That is eleven goals per season, on average. For a striker, that is abysmal. And concerning.
On top of that, he upset many fans of his club, Corinthians, with his wasted chances. However, he lost the support of many within a year, when he attempted--and failed--a panenka penalty against hated rivals Gremio in the national cup competition. It was the final PK of the shootout, and it essentially ended his time at Corinthians. He was since loaned out twice--once to Sao Paulo FC, and now to Chelsea.
WHAT DOES HE BRING TO CHELSEA?
We figured that we should reach out to our friends at We Ain't Got No History to help answer that question. I spoke with Fellipe Miranda, who wrote a fascinating piece on what Chelsea fans can and cannot expect from Pato, to get his thoughts on how the new acquisition would fit into the plans of Guus Hiddink.
It remains to be seen how Alexandre Pato will be used during his loan spell at Chelsea. In Brazil last year, his best stint was as a left winger with loads of freedom to explore space in attacking forays while having little to no defensive or pressing duties - a bit like Eden Hazard at the club.
Pato himself said that he doesn't like to play as a pure centre-forward, preferring to have someone else to be a reference to his team's attack. But with backup striker Loïc Rémy seemingly on the verge of leaving Stamford Bridge for Leicester and Radamel Falcao unavailable to play since November, it wouldn't be surprising if Pato is asked to play as a #9 whenever Diego Costa isn't available, in a role that he isn't too comfortable with.
Fellipe is spot on in regards to Pato and his struggles as a lone striker. As a Rossoneri fan, I can attest that Pato thrived when he was paired with another striker who could hold up play and allow him to play in support and space. When partnered with the likes of Zlatan, Pippo Inzaghi, and Alberto Gilardino, he performed brilliantly. However, when asked to lead the attack as the sole striker, he would struggle to make an impact on the match.
IS HE SOMEONE TO INVEST IN?
Simply put, no. I do not believe so...at this time.
In a more detailed answer, I believe that he is someone to keep an eye on, not necessarily simply in terms of his individual performance, but in regards to how he might be deployed. If Hiddink changes his system to partner Pato with Costa, then his value would increase--but at the cost of someone such as Oscar losing value. Fellipe thinks the same thing, stating:
Added to the fact that adapting to the Premier League won't be an easy task after spending the last three years in Brazil, Pato's fantasy value is quite limited to say the least. Pato can still be seen as a sleeper pick though since he's clearly eager to prove his worth in a top-tier European team, and he might have some chances to do so if Eden Hazard remains unlucky with form and fitness. In any case, you may take him at your own risk.
I'm very interested to see if he plays on the wing at any point. If he does, I actually think he could do better there than as a Number 9 for Chelsea. He still has the dribbling skills that he showcased for years in Italy, and while his finishing and pace may have fallen off a bit, he is still a more than capable passer and he will get opportunities to create.
The one thing that I will say is, if you DO invest in Pato, make sure you have him starting in his first appearance for Chelsea. Because he will score. That's what he does. Even though he has not played in a match since November 28th, I would be willing to bet money that he will score.
In his debut for Internacional as a teenager, he scored inside of the first minute.
For AC Milan, he scored in both his non-competitive debut, and his official Serie A debut.
And for Corinthians, he once again was a debutante goal-scorer, scoring with his second touch of the match. Which was about a second after his first touch was a shot that got blocked, upon which he buried the rebound.
I can't promise that he will continue to score after that....in fact, it's highly unlikely right now. And as a Manchester United fan, part of me hopes that I am wrong. Even though he will play for Chelsea, there is a part of me that remembers how much I enjoyed watching him years ago, when he wore the black and red of AC Milan, when he terrorized teams in the Serie A with his deft dribbling, his cool finishing, and his energy off the ball. As someone who saw what potential he had then, I wouldn't mind seeing him recapture it.
Besides, if he does.....let's just say I will find room for him in my FIFA 16 Ultimate Team BPL squad and hope that he can terrorize my opponents on the digital pitch yet again.