From one of the most enigmatic young talents to come out of Brazil and set the world alight to a young career plagued with injury, Alexandre Rodrigues da Silva, Pato, looks like he could be set to return home this winter. Gino De Blasio (@ginodb) takes a personal look at a man every AC Milan and football fan has come to admire but wonder about in the last two seasons.
By Gino De Blasio – @ginodb
When his now famous appearances at the junior World Cup that set the world talking, Pato was destined for great things. Every club that could watch him, did. Any club that could entertain the idea of buying the super talent, entertained. Any club willing enough to stick a bid in, willed it to be.
But AC Milan had a few aces up their sleeves. Their sporting director at the time was Leonardo, a fellow Brazilian who could sell the club vision. Kaka, the world’s best at the time, was instrumental to the arrival of the youngster as well as other key figures of the Milan board. There, it seemed, his relationship with the other players had to be number one.
He didn’t fail either in his début against Dynamo Kiev in the Champions League or his first domestic appearance against Napoli. Napoli coach Edy Reja after the match described his talent as “nothing short of brilliant”. But what shocked most was his pace over the first ten meters, he seemed to literally blitz opponents with ease. This, with his second full season (finishing as Milan’s top goalscorer), is the Pato that we want to remember.
But times change and so do players. Pato is only 23, yes, that young. When I think back to being his age (not that long ago) I was immature, I still am a little to this day. His personal life has been splashed over the papers in recent years with an ex-relationship to Milan owner Silvio Berlusconi’s daughter, Barbara (a current Milan director); this wouldn’t have helped in the dressing room either. Does he have the motivation to continue in a club where the heart-strings have been tugged for different reasons?
And whilst Pato’s greatest strength is finding the back of the net, his biggest Achilles heel is, probably his Achilles heel; along with the 27 muscular related injuries in the last four years of playing. He is like porcelain on a good day, caramel sugar wrap on a bad day. And this is Milan’s conundrum – continue the risk of utilising a player for only 10 to 15 matches a season or sell whilst the price is good enough and buy in another striker?
If I was on the Milan board, I wouldn’t be looking to find the answers from the fans or other directors. I would turn to my coach and ask, “how much more can Pato bring to the pitch? Is Pato worth the risk for another three, four, five seasons? Will he continue to splutter along with physical issues or will he be miraculously cured and find peace in the bosom of the San Siro?”
I’ve never seen a player so young do what he did with his entrance to football, but his injuries will catch up with him if they haven’t already. It’s a call that no fan would ever want to make, or any manager at the same price.
Should Pato stay or go? Tweet us @talkingbaws or comment below.