FAN ARTICLE: By Mohammad S (joint owner of @Milanello).
I will always remember the 13th of January, 2008. Milan had a few months before signed one of the biggest talents in world football who was only 17 years old. This young player was bought for €22m from Brazilian club Internacional and on this date, he was to make his debut with AC Milan.
It was a beautiful game. He was paired upfront with the legendary Ronaldo and was supported by the superstar Kaka. It was as if the past, present and future of Brazilian football were lining up Milan’s attack that night.
This youngster did not disappoint. At only 18 years old, he mesmerized the San Siro crowd with his dribbling and simple play. He missed a few easy chances but capped off his debut with a goal that made sure he stamped his mark on the world stage.
On that day, the world was introduced to Milan’s new #7, Alexandre Pato.
From that moment on, Pato formed a deadly strikeforce together with Kaka and Ronaldo and the media quickly labeled the trio “Ka-Pa-Ro”. Pato’s presence in the first XI meant that players such as Gilardino and Inzaghi were relegated to the bench.
The next few seasons saw Pato’s progress steadily increasing. Today, his goal to games ratio is about one goal in every two games, which is mighty impressive.
However, Pato faces a very tough problem that has seemingly tested the patience of the Milan faithful. He is injury prone. Pato has made only 63 appearances for Milan during the past two seasons. In the same period, Thiago Silva has played 82 games meaning Pato misses roughly 10 games per season.
It was to be easily forgiven previously, as Pato was still producing the goods whenever he played. His one goal in two games scoring ratio made sure the fans were always behind his back. But this season, in addition to his continuing injuries, it has become apparent that Pato and Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri do not get along fine. Pato has only scored once each in Serie A and Coppa Italia and has two goals in the Champions League.
In an interview recently, Pato made it known that Allegri does not tell him what to do on the pitch, which is different to how Carlo Ancelotti handled him. When questioned about this apparent fallout, Pato maintained that he and Allegri enjoyed a “professional” relationship. Not exactly something encouraging.
True enough, it become apparent that Pato’s words about Ancelotti might have had a hidden meaning. As Milan were in pursuit of Carlos Tevez (who might still be joining Milan soon, but a topic for another day), Pato became surplus to requirements at Milan and Ancelotti with the financial might of his new club Paris Saint Germain made an offer rumored to be worth €35m.
This was where it became clear to me and most Milan fans that the fact that Milan were entertaining this offer meant that there was something not right going on. I would have never imagined Milan would ever consider selling him. It was sort of a relief for me when it was announced that the deal fell through. President Silvio Berlusconi made it clear that he blocked the move. Some people speculate that this happened only because Pato was dating Silvio’s daughter, Barbara.
After a period of relief, I began to realize how similar this whole situation was with when Kaka almost joined Manchester City a few years back. Does this mean that Pato will leave in the summer? I hope not, but I feel so. Especially if Milan get to sign Carlos Tevez.
Personally, I believe that people always, ALWAYS forget that Pato is only 22 years old. Only special players would have scored 72 goals at the highest level by this age.
Leo Messi at 22 was only breaking out. Before that, he and Pato averaged roughly the same number of goals per season.
Cristiano Ronaldo at 22 only had 37 goals to his name. Pato has double that.
Let us also not forget that we have actually seen what Pato has done at the top level when fit and mentally ready. Both of these traits are however big “what-if’s” in the career of Pato. Is he going to run away from his injury problems? Is he going to develop a better relationship with Allegri? Will his career go downhill from now on?
These are questions that only time can answer.
I have to be honest, if I strictly think with my head, I would be saying “How the hell did we not accept €35m for an injury prone player who doesn’t get along with the coach?”. But thankfully, the world of football is more than that. I’d rather have some faith in my Il Papero and hopes he comes good and becomes just as good as Leo Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo. Time is certainly on his side and letting him go is simply not a bet I would take.