The Brazilian striker is desperate for a Premier League move – and so are his own club Corinthians – but Marcus Alves says things have never been simple for the former teenage prodigy…
“My private advice to you is don’t follow the Pato path any longer,” Jurgen Klopp said on Monday responding to speculation that the former Milan striker could be moving to Liverpool this month.
He wasn’t the first. Other coaches have done the same recently, but Corinthians and his agents aren’t giving up on one of the most difficult works in the world: finding a team in Europe for the 26-year-old.
Representatives of the six-time Brazilian champion are desperate to sell him – and anyone that arrives with an offer of €20 million will secure his services.
He didn’t have the guts that our supporters demand of any player signed by Corinthians
Maybe it sounds odd, but it’s easy to understand why Corinthians want to offload Alexandre Pato so badly. He’s rated as the worst signing ever made by the club, having cost €15 million in January 2013, and the Sao Paulo-based side are now afraid they won’t be able to avoid financial loss: Pato will be free to sign a pre-contract with someone else from June.
The Brazilian centre-forward has never settled at the Parque Sao Jorge. Corinthians board member Edu, the former Arsenal midfielder, has declared the same repetitive reason as his colleagues for Pato’s failure at Corinthians.
“We were all happy when he arrived [in 2013] – even the media was cheerful, I remind you,” he said. “But he didn’t have the guts that our supporters demand of any player signed by Corinthians.
“It’s not that he should have been mean on the pitch, but to have a little bit of knife between his teeth; to think ‘If I’m not doing well technically today I’ll do it in another way, I’ll use my strength’.”
Pato doesn’t have what Corinthians fans want from their players, he’s not wanted by the directors, and if that wasn’t enough, he’s struggled to adapt in the dressing room thanks to his high wage – around €180,000 monthly, making him the team’s highest earner.
We knew that he would be heavily criticised by the media – the fans already wanted to fight him, even the players wanted to do it
He argued with some of his team-mates during his first spell, but the decisive moment in his future came when his team were dumped out of the 2013 Brazilian Cup quarter-finals after he missed the last penalty against Gremio. Worse still, it was a scuffed Panenka attempt that made it easy for his former Milan team-mate Dida to save.
Pato almost got hit by his own colleagues when the team left the stadium.
“I remember that it was difficult to hold back everyone to not hit him,” former left-back Fabio Santos recalled. “[Reserve goalkeeper] Danilo Fernandes was pretty mad – two or three players were really angry at him.
“We knew that he would be heavily criticised by the media – the fans already wanted to fight him, even the players wanted to do it. If it wasn’t for two or three who were there to calm down the others, I don’t know what could have happened.”
He was reborn in 2015, had his named linked with a Brazil call-up again and changed his attitude on and off the field
The missed penalty and Pato’s attitude afterwards summarised why Corinthians decided to loan him out to rivals Sao Paulo. Despite still being only 24 at the time, Pato used to give the impression that he’d already gained all the money he and his family needed, and didn’t have any other goals to pursue in his career. He often seemed uninterested on the pitch.
It was almost like he couldn’t recognise the bad moment he was going through, and living in a different world. Even Brazilian national team coach Dunga pointed it out (the same Dunga who once called Pato Ronaldo’s “heir”).
“It’s normal to have up and downs,” said the former Seleção skipper. “[But] he needs to do more establish himself. Do you know what happens? The kid plays two games and the media already says that he’s better than Pele. But Pele played more than 1,000 matches, and scored more than 1,000 goals – you can’t compare to him.
“It’s difficult for him. The world fell into his lap in four months [at the beginning of his career] and now he needs to concentrate on his game again.”
Pato apparently listened.
He was reborn in 2015, had his named linked with a Brazil call-up again and changed his attitude on and off the field. He finished the season with 26 goals for Sao Paulo, leaving all of his physical problems behind him and once again showing glimpses of the 17-year-old youngster who wowed everyone with the 2006 Internacional side that beat Barcelona in the Club World Cup.
The work to find him a team hasn’t stopped: Kia Joorabchian and Giuliano Bertolucci have been tasked with the job
Pato is now confident he can move back to Europe – and the Premier League is the destination he dreams about.
He was spotted recently at Stamford Bridge for Chelsea’s Champions League clash with Porto. There were also suggestions that Tottenham sought more information about him, and that Manchester United made an offer in the summer (from the player himself). None of this was officially confirmed, though the work to find him a team hasn’t stopped. Kia Joorabchian and Giuliano Bertolucci have been tasked with the job.
Crystal Palace and West Ham have also been linked with welcoming his services – and Corinthians will be thankful.
“Everyone knows about his talent; nobody moves to Milan aged 17 because they’ve got green eyes,” said a tune-changing Edu. “He’s been through an excellent moment, he has been playing without injury for some time and he became one of the main footballers of an important side like Sao Paulo. All of these details together make me think that European teams will come for him.”
While a Premier League move doesn’t happen, though, Corinthians could already be moving ahead without Pato after accepting a €20 million offer from Chinese second-tier side Tianjin Quanjian, managed by former Brazil and Real Madrid boss Vanderlei Luxemburgo. But Pato is unmoved for now: the Brazilian striker has already refused the reported €680,000 monthly wage offered.
Corinthians directors called him crazy. And so the story continues.
- 8 players who were bigger than the club (or at least thought they were)
- Quiz: Can you name the footballer based on their transfer trail?
- 9 strikers available for Tottenham to sign this month