Pato-Milan: A love affair that was just not meant to be

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WHEN A 17-year old Alexandre Rodriguez da Silva put pen to paper with Milan a long term deal back in 2007, everyone at the club was confident about what this youth prodigy worth a staggering €22 million was capable of.

When he made his debut six months later in January, 2008 against Napoli and scored his first with much confidence and aplomb, the fans realized the same.

It wasn’t just a debut; it wasn’t just any other Serie A game. It was a love story which at that time seemed like would go on forever and help the club and the fans get over one of their own legends who had left for shores in England two seasons ago.

Highlights: Milan 2-1 Siena
Milan-Siena: The Rossoneri squad

That he took over Andriy Shevchenko’s famed number ‘7’ jersey had its very own significance.

Four seasons later last summer, yet again he took over the responsibility of taking forward another one of Rossoneri’s legends, sacrificing his pet jersey for Pippo Inzaghi’s who had decided to call time on his illustrious career with the club to take over as the head coach of the Allievi Nazionalli.

Only this time, things had changed and so had ‘the Duck’.

Marred with no less than 16 different injuries in his five and a half years with the Diavolo, Pato slowly and gradually stopped being the player who had signed and showed promise as a teenager. Lanky and child-like back in the winter of 2008 when he first donned the red and black officially, it was easy to notice how quickly he had taken over the body of a well-built man over the years, letting many people forget that after all he was still a 22 year old.

Linked with a new club every transfer window though over the past few years, he’s gone. Some would say ‘Finally’ while for the rest, the feeling will take some time to sink-in.

So who was at fault, you may ask for this terrible break up. Was it the club, was it the fans or was it Pato himself?

Truth be told – no one’s at fault really, as it was simply not meant to be.

We can all point fingers at all the actors involved in this drama, but when introspected closely it can be concluded that each one of them gave it their best shot and after much suffering, his departure was inevitable.

From Pato’s point of view, he obviously started off well. He had the whole world at his feet for a good couple of seasons as late as 2011, when he was scoring at a good enough rate despite his injuries which were not as niggling as they were in the last one and half seasons. Clubs around Europe were in awe of this wonder kid, and envious of Milan for having snapped upon a player who many considered as a future legend and the Rossoneri’s future. But his body perhaps betrayed him, and the evidence of that is the uncontrolled accumulation of muscles in the upper half of his body which was too hot to handle for his legs and hence the perennial injuries that went on to later define his tenure at the San Siro.

When even the famed Milan Lab, considered the best in the world with the secret recipe for extending many a player’s career – be it Paolo Maldini or Filippo Inzaghi – couldn’t find an answer to his problems, perhaps it was clear that his problem were not normal. When sent to the US, a professor remarked that probably it was all in his brain but every time he tried to make a comeback he made a tearful retreat to the treatment table.

He did the best he could. One should not forget that with over 160 matches for Milan and over 50 goals he’s already one of the most experienced players to have played in the Serie A. But there’s only so much a ’22-year old’ can take.

His much awaited comeback this season was never going to be easy and as it so happened, definitely ended his stint in Italy.

As for the fans, he was their beloved. It wasn’t just Pato who shed a tear every time there was an injury. With every drop shed by the Brazilian, there were thousands shed by the fans who always saw him as the one to carry the club forward, the one to usher the beginning of a new era in the club’s history.

With every goal, he took a step closer towards the Rossoneri faithful – then be it that superb brace against Read Madrid at the Bernabeau or the brilliant solo against Barcelona at the Camp Nou. And that’s one reason why every time he went out of action, his return was much anticipated by one and all and it would be safe to bet that despite the sad end to this love affair, the majority still feels dejected that he is no longer a part of the club.

Perhaps, the rise of another wonder kid in Stephan El Shaarawy took away some of the attention the Brazilian international got from the fans but he was, is and will always be loved the same way – never mind the fact that he was booed for the missed penalty against Fiorentina. That was just a part and parcel of being loved so dearly over the years.

Talking about Milan as a club, it must be said that what they have done for Pato is nothing but commendable and for that they should be respected as they have done nothing but strengthened their image as club that is more like a family.

He was their baby, albeit an expensive one but theirs nevertheless. It’s a different thing that it stopped clicking after a few years but Milan as they always have with any player over the years in the Berlusconi era, stood by him every step of the way.

Resisting a multimillion dollar bid in the excess of over 30-40 million dollars every summer and winter for an injury prone player is simply not that easy. They could have sold him to PSG last January, and perhaps one of Thiago Silva or Zlatan Ibrahimovic would still have stayed at the club, not to forget that Carlos Tevez’s arrival hinged upon that deal with the Arabs. But Pato asked for another chance, and it was granted without a second thought.

He was chased by Carlo Ancelotti back in 2010 with Chelsea willing to pay over €50 million, but the London based club was greeted with a simple ‘Thanks, but he is not for sale’. Roman Abromavich gave it another shot, but every time there was an enquiry the answer was a firm ‘No’.

That is testimony to how much the club believed in him and how much it values its culture of being a club that treats its players like a family. Any other club would have gotten rid of him a long time back given his recurring injuries and declining transfer value and it would have made sense, but not at Milan.

They have finally sold him this winter for a mere €15 million when they could have earned almost double of that last winter, but still Berlusconi’s biggest regret is not the money that the club has lost in this transfer but the fact that his problems could not be fixed and the club failed in its attempt to keep hold of its baby.

He asked for a chance last winter, and it was granted. This time around he asked for a change and that too was humbly granted. That’s where Milan are second to none when it comes to treating their players like family and not assets – the sale of Ibrahimovic and Silva was a necessity and there’s a reason why both players even today by admittance would not mind a return to the San Siro.

Berlusconi upon this deal with World Champions Corinthians commented that Pato has promised that he shall return to the club in a couple of year’s time in better shape, as a better player. Let’s just hope this promise is kept not just for the sake of the club but for the sake of the Serie A which has once again lost a star.

But whatever the case, truth be told – it’s no one’s fault.

It was just not meant to be, but if it is, it will be.

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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arya
arya
8 years ago

he’ll be back! forza pato!

yareens80
yareens80
8 years ago

pato, truly spectacualer, him scoring gave me so much energy, like no one else, i always said fifa player of the year 2014, pato could of done it, but injruies stopped him, forza milan, and forza pato.

Milanista121
Milanista121
8 years ago

Nice article man…it’s true, he really did have a special connection with fans, don’t know why he just did.
It would be fantastic to see him recover and comeback to us in the near future.
Best of luck to him!

Milan fan
Milan fan
8 years ago

He will be back,you just wait,he’ll be the best striker this club’s ever had.

acbaba
acbaba
8 years ago

I cry 4 u

TWF
TWF
8 years ago

Thanks for your supports, Duck. I am listening a song “Too Much Love will Kill You” from Brian May, Queen’s guitarist. I think the song is suited for you, Duck.

Echoops
Echoops
8 years ago

Good luck Pato ! I hope you find your form soon!! I will miss Pato greatly! Hope to see him in the world cup !!

R kenny
8 years ago

Pato we still come back 2 in fitness forza pato.

Mz adamu
8 years ago

4rza milan we all miss pato in milan

Chris Okunnuwa
Chris Okunnuwa
8 years ago

Nice article! I agree with you on almost everything. But I’m some how dissapointed in Pato for desperately wanting to quit a club that loved and gave him so much.. Pato threatened not to renew his contract if not sold now. Milan would have still love to have him. A loan deal would have been ideal. I still pray he overcomes all his injury and psychological problems in other to fulfil his God given potentials. I don’t know why Pato divorced his first love-wife and fooled around with Barbara Berlusconi. Same for Boateng, messing around with Melissa Santa. God is… Read more »

Saman
Saman
8 years ago

Soon constant will be our “superstar” in the team

Silas
8 years ago

Hahaha Pato fan boys,Do you know what caused his down fall? Mixing business with pleasure….
Blame it on the Berlusconi daughter

Juninho
Juninho
8 years ago

Pato reminds me of Van Basten and his injuries.

But Van Basten was better by miles.
I think it’s only a matter of time to Pato stop playing football too.

sheva7
sheva7
8 years ago
Reply to  Juninho

More like Saviola

I_am_GPee
I_am_GPee
8 years ago

love u so much Pato…it jst wasnt meant to be. ..bt counting on ur words to cme back if u actually said dat…forza milan; forza Pato

kingbuzza
8 years ago

pato we all miss u, hope u keep ur promises.

TWF
TWF
8 years ago

Do you know why Pato mixed the business with pleasure? It is not because of Barbara, it is because of Ronaldinho who introduced him with night clubs. That’s why Stephanie Brito (Pato’s ex-wife) left him years ago. His performances have been worsening since then and reaches the worst when he had relationship with Barbara. Last but not least, never compare Pato with the great Van Basten. Van Basten was Zlatan’s trainer in Ajax long time ago. Van Basten has dedicated his life for football much better than Pato. Peace.

Emeka-naija
Emeka-naija
8 years ago

Pato go back to ur old wife and u will definatly enjoy ur carier lyk never b4

Juninho
Juninho
8 years ago

I’m just comparing the injury that ended the career of Van Basten early with injuries that Pato is having.

Not the talent of the two.

It is impossible to Pato back to Stephany their marriage ended way to Ugly.

Ozeki
Ozeki
8 years ago

What a poetic article about the love that never be!

One thing we do know, that when it’s over, it wasn’t because of lack of trying 🙂

Alexandre, we thank you for the service that you have done for the club, and wish you the best in your new adventure with Corinthians. You would always be part of Milan.

sulexdinho olawale pato

Best of luck patoo….love u wit all my heart

Stephan Kareem El Shaawary
Stephan Kareem El Shaawary
8 years ago

Allegri is really big problem and his training regime.Since he is the coach our team has biggest injury list in Italy.

hydee
8 years ago

Wow!! What a sad moment †̥̥☺ see D̶̲̥̅̊ might DUCK!! Back †̥̥☺ his homeland, ℓ̊ pray ​U̶̲̥̅̊ get over †ђȋ̝̊̅§ injury issue , willing †̥̥☺ see ​U̶̲̥̅̊ again wearing D̶̲̥̅̊ red α̲̅πϑ black jersey!! We love ​U̶̲̥̅̊ A̶̲̥̅ƪƪ α̲̅πϑ really going †̥̥☺ miss ​U̶̲̥̅̊ PATO

stanbenedict
8 years ago

Leave pato alone,you guys didn’t know the reason why he left his wife. Don’t trust everything the press says. For all of you booing him,u can go to hell and burn to ashes

stanbenedict
8 years ago

Leave pato alone,you guys didn’t know the reason
why he left his wife. Don’t trust everything the
press says.

Stephan Kareem El Shaawary
Stephan Kareem El Shaawary
8 years ago

Russians are really drunk they want Antonini now lol.I hope they buy Abate,Antonini and our pecious jewl Bonera.

Stephan Kareem El Shaawary
Stephan Kareem El Shaawary
8 years ago

Zenit now offers 12 + bonuses for Abate.

emeka
emeka
8 years ago

oh Pato! best of luck frm me 2 u. Thanks afterall.

Samuel
Samuel
8 years ago

To Alexandre my love,i love you and will always do. All the best in life duck!

dejan10
dejan10
8 years ago

Good luck ducky. Maybe see you in two years in the red and black. Btw, Galatasary want Antonini AND Mesbah. We’ll throw Bonera in the deal for a case of Peroni.

kelvin
kelvin
8 years ago

Antonini? Mesbah?…this is the luck we’ve been longing for years!!…B & G better make it happen!

Juninho
Juninho
8 years ago

Antonini seems to be going to play for Galatasaray.

Mesbah will stay for now.

Milanista121
Milanista121
8 years ago
Reply to  Juninho

What? Rather keeping Antonini than Mesbah, why can’t he leave once and for all…

Juninho
Juninho
8 years ago
Reply to  Milanista121

Milan offer Mesbah but the Galatasaray CEO rejected him.

Kuchini
Kuchini
8 years ago

Just read that southampton is getting Astori.

What the hell is Milan doing?

showband
showband
8 years ago

PATOOOOOOOOoo i’m so crazy abt his injuries

sulexdinho olawale pato

Plss galiani bonera antonini yepes mesbah to galatansaray….buy two get two free!!!!!lol

Alvi
Alvi
8 years ago

He Will Be BAck At Ac Milan Soon We Miss Him…

dejan10
dejan10
8 years ago

Forget what I said earlier, we’ll give Antonini, Mesbah and Bonera for 3 cases of Peroni and a new kit with smaller collars. All bids please to dejan10.com. (Yepes is off the market as his beard is too sexy. Sorry.)

Yusuf zlatan
Yusuf zlatan
8 years ago

I HOPE PATO WIL ONE DAY IN D FUTURE RETURN 2 OUR GREAT FAMILY…Forza milan

legendzeck
legendzeck
8 years ago

my own pato,u have make me happy ever since i losse my my dearing kaka and shevchenko. Sobs. Lov en miss u i pray u cm bk 2 millan family .

Lanre247 Milanista
Lanre247 Milanista
8 years ago

I hope to see u back in Milan with full fit and injury free. Forza Pato

rossoneri in my blood
rossoneri in my blood
8 years ago

our dear baby boy pato we will always love you #weareacmilan

Jonathan Gbaja
Jonathan Gbaja
8 years ago

Pato was truly family, seems we have to settle for Balotelli as a stricker…And balotelli will certainly shorten the wait for patos return #Forzamilan

Blazing R'n'B
Blazing R'n'B
8 years ago

I read this article over and over each day,the writer wrote it perfectly…I still remember that second goal against R.Madrid… Top class! For me,he should have reduced his body building,because with his height its a disadvantage,plus he has speed so he can evade defenders easily… Too bad we don’t have good leaders in the team to protect youngsters… Maldini did a good job protecting those kids back then,I remember him rough handling Chielini for a tackle on Kaka