Has Pato really become a problem at Milan

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IT’S DIFFICULT to get that image of an 18 year old scoring against Napoli on his debut in Serie A with one of the most prestigious in the world, out of our head. It’s difficult to forget that magical evening at the Santiago Bernabéu back in 2009, when two goals by the very same striker, now an integral part of the side helped Milan pull off one of their greatest Champions League victories in a long time. Likewise, it’s difficult not to reminisce about a lot of good memories involving him with the red and black which shall always stay forever with the fans.

Sadly though, it’s equally difficult to somehow be rational and accept the fact that Alexandre Pato might not really be a club legend as expected by many, regardless of their allegiance with AC Milan. What started out as a love affair between him, the club and the fans is sadly turning sour week after week and a crucial month or so before the January transfer awaits all parties involved.

Truth be told, no one is at fault for the current scenario. Not Pato, not the club and certainly not the fans for showing their much reported animosity towards him post the defeat to Fiorentina a few weeks back.

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Pato’s body never really supported the demands of the modern game. The kid who had the body of 14 year old when he started, all of a sudden grew up to compete with players much older than him in terms of physique. Just a simple look of his pictures from the past and the present, and anyone can spot out the extraordinary growth that his body has shown over the past 4 years.

The Milan Lab, considered to be amongst the best in the world having furthered the careers of players such as Maldini, Costacurta, Seedorf, Nesta and Inzaghi and made them play like twenty something(s) defying all logic of ageing was baffled at this peculiar case involving the muscular problems that Pato has had to suffer over the past few years. Every time there seem to be a breakthrough, sadly he was back on the treatment table so much so that the club even decided to send him to the United States for external consult with some of the best minds in the field of medicine such as Professor Frederick Carrick in Atlanta.

And when it finally seemed like he had shrugged off his injuries this summer, it was the same story once again as Pato only returned last month and still does not look like himself, understandably losing his starting spot to the likes of Bojan and even Pazzini.

His relationship with Barbara Berlusconi, coupled with reports that he considers himself untouchable in the squad thanks to the very same association, have further deteriorated his standing amongst the fans and the club alike. Once widely respected as a humble and down to earth person, there is always an air of skepticism surrounding him off late.
Milan as a club have always stood by ‘The Duck’, a player they were so proud of, a player who was supposed to be the flag-bearer of their history, a player who could take over the baton from the veterans who had done their bit. At 22m euros, he was expensive since he was only 17 at the time of his purchase but it was worth it and Pato demonstrated that on the pitch.

But declining a tempting offer for a player who is continuously injured and whose value continues to depreciate with every transfer market, every summer speaks volumes about the trust the management had in their star and the class of Milan. Any other club would have been more rational and sold off such an asset for huge profits to stack up their coffers but the Rossoneri have never been synonymous with such a trait that very rightly portrays the club as more a family than a business model.

However, when PSG came knocking last January with a 35m cheque the club and the player himself held back at the last minute and that has been a turning point for the club and with very few suitors on the market, it’s probably for the very same reason why Silvio Berlusconi now sees him as a problem rather than a solution for Milan’s current difficulties.
In hindsight, that one transfer could have helped Milan sign Carlos Tevez and maybe even prevented the sale of Thiago Silva who was eventually sold to balance the books. Zlatan Ibrahimovic would have been sold anyway thanks to his astronomical wages and advancing age but the Argentine would have filled in for him. Milan could also have been the Serie A champions last season, who knows as Tevez helped City win the title with his form that never went away!!

Leaving the past aside and looking forward, Pato’s recent form has seen him benched in favor of Bojan and Pazzini and despite being tipped to start against Anderlecht he was used only as a substitute. He may have scored but anyone who has followed the player since his debut with Milan could make out he wasn’t really happy, probably realizing he isn’t that important anymore and maybe a certain Stephan El-Shaarawy has taken up his place in the heart of the club and the fans.
What we tend to forget thanks to his long association with Milan is the fact that after all Pato is still only 23, and there is every possibility that he sees in El-Shaarawy, his former self or what he was just when he had started out and what he has become 4 years down the line and it’s not entirely his fault.

That was reflective in his appreciation of the Italian international which was immediately followed by a comment about his future raising concerns for the very first time about whether he should stay or go! President Berlusconi’s comment where he labeled him as a problem was at the same time followed by his appreciation of El Shaarawy making it very clear that his patience has run out and he sees a future star in someone else.

The weekend derby against Juventus will be crucial and more vital will be the buildup to the match and whether Allegri will trust Pato to lead the attack in what is the biggest test for Milan this season.

If he doesn’t, will he finally make up his mind that it’s time to move on?

Chelsea got over their fetish for him a long time back after repeatedly being told he was not for sale for even 50m euros, and that leaves PSG who tried to hit on him with the best possible offer last January as the only contender for his signature.

But with Carlo Ancelotti recently admitting that Pato is no longer required at PSG, ironically due to the presence of a former team-mate in Ibrahimovic, the big question now is who really wants him?

For all things red and black, follow me on twitter @adityabajaj
For my weekly Serie A column on Goal.com, click
 here.

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dami

A real thoughtful article. Pato problems are not the consistent injury but his “insignificient role” in Allegri Milan. Allegri seems not to be a fan of the duck and is eager to get rid of him coupled with his “untouchable tag”. However, even if we decide to sell, no club will be willing to pay even #25m for an injury-prone striker thus we just need to keep him and make him feel wanted. Although, a change of environment will be good for the duck cos the atmosphere @ Milan is obviously having a negative effect on his career ( sour… Read more »

dejan10

Silva + Tevez or Pato watching from the bench? Hmmm…

moein

if i was milan’s ceo, i would have waited until january to see if pato can hit his potential. otherwise, i would loan him to Corinthians to gain confidence and have him ready for next season hopefully. this plan has worked before on robinho in man city and adriano at inter.

POK

I think a right motivation from people around Pato is very necessary He should know that he’s not fit for the match, but the problem is he think he is. So a great comfort from Allegri is needed to keep him calm and motivated to focus more on training and building up fitness and confidence more than thinking” why i didn’t play or why i’m not important to the team anymore” See C.Ronaldo for example, he’s very strong in his physique and his mentality following the 2006 and all the medias all around him. After, he was back to MUTD… Read more »

06

I dont understand why bench Pato for Pazzini or for Bojan who is better playing in a position behind strikers, specially when Boa is a starter when he is underperforming…
I think this is what makes Pato say what he said.. he will get better by playing and now he should play because no better player is to replace him for now.

sammy clinton

Anyone that blames allegri for pato form is kinda sick upstair…tell. Pato to stop being jealous of SES aand just stay focus…

stanbenedict

clinton, your post z senseless

franco

look at rvp, injury prone for years and now top top draw and pato will be the same trust me, he is only 23 and he is so talented. Maybe a loan deal to brazil will do him good to get consistency. i stand by pato.

Some Guy

I agree with you 100%. Pato will remain at Milan, and shrug off his injuries, until he reaches his full potential.

seeksmylz

Pato is a gud player no doubt n can even b d best in milan n in d world,d fact is aside corinthians no big club will give him much time with less expectation like milan does not to talk about d family love he can get from milan if he sees himself as one of d nu born milan.He shuld just admit d fact dat he’s a player like SES,Bojan n even Pazzini dat at anytime anyone of em can be kept,thrown or even abandoned on d bench esp wen u don’t fit into Allegri’s game plan 4 dat… Read more »

Nicholas

very nice article .. but guesswork about zlatan, silva, pato and Tevez does not hold .. we would not be able to sell zlatan if we had not agreed to also sell silva.. Man city was no longer interested in zlatan.. the story is sad! .. I would say it’s all barb’s fault ;D

when it is said we have started a new and exciting chapter this year and we can only hope the next 25 years will be just as entertaining and exciting as the previous ..

AC MILAN for life <3

vicnas

pato is kinda useless.all he has is pace,dude can’t hold up play,can’t give a good pass,can’t dribble and dosen’t play team football.All he does is to try and outrun defenders.I think Niang and pazzo are better options.Atleast pazzo knows to pass when he’s covered by defenders,check ses goal against udinese.