Alexandre Pato: From partying with Ronaldinho to injuries galore, where is he now?

Alexandre Pato and Sao Paulo

The extraordinary tale of Alexandre Pato is befitting of words shared when he first burst onto the scene in 2008.

After finding the back of the net via a lob from an impossible angle to score his first goal for Brazil, Dunga muttered that he was no "normal talent." 

Indeed, if there was ever a quote that summed up one footballer so perfectly, it was this one.

Nicknamed the Duck, Pato's career has stuttered and stalled, going from Brazil's next hope to now lingering around searching for a new club.

The forward is currently a free agent and at the age of 31, his progression has not been what we expected.

This is a player who first stood out as a 17-year-old, but got caught up in the limelight and arguably wasted the prime years of his career.

Though for all the fortune he's been given financially, his days on the pitch have been troublesome. Injury nightmares plagued a certain segment of his career but all in all, it was his attitude that tore him down. 

Alexandre Pato

That goal for Brazil should have been the first of many but he now hasn't played for the national side since 2013 and has just ten goals in 27 caps for Selecao

If you had to have a guess at what he'd achieve back in 2008, it would be a lot more than that.

On the day of his first goal for Brazil, Dunga revealed that "his style of play is similar to that of Ronaldo." 

That was a huge comparison to make. After all, the man he's mentioned in the same breath as is now Brazil's third all-time top goalscorer. 

Pato with Ronaldo and Kaka

Ronaldo Nazario is one of the greatest players we've ever seen, but the comparisons didn't stop there. Pato was tipped to emulate players like Pele and Ronaldinho, but the closest he came to following in the footsteps of the latter was at parties. 

Pato became a playboy, something that ended his first marriage and ultimately, presented a good reason as to why he didn't achieve all he should have done.

That being said, he hasn't been a complete failure. The forward earned a move to AC Milan from Internacional in 2007 for £21.6m when he was just 17. 

In all senses of the word, he was a wonderkid, a player blessed with more talent than someone at that age should normally have and boy, did we see it. 

The Milan team of the time was superb. Think Dida, Cafu, Paolo Maldini, Clarence Seedorf, Kaka and Filippo Inzaghi - they had them all. 

Ronaldinho, Seedorf and Pato

If there was ever a place to learn your trade, this was it. Milan's manager then was Carlo Ancelotti, someone who had plenty of glowing appraisals for the forward. "As for Pato, in terms of movements and sense of goal, he reminds me of Napoli's Careca." 

If you named a legend of Brazilian football, it seemed as though the ex-Milan striker could be compared to them. 

Gazzetta Italia reporter Luca Calamai once declared: "Putting together the various opinions, a "monster centre forward" emerges who has the shot, the progression and meaning of Ronaldo's goal; Careca's dribbling; Jardel's aerial play skills. And also the personality of Romario and the education of Kaka. Too much grace." 

Based on that assessment, Pato should have become someone in the same light as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Pato and Ancelotti

Instead, he's been surpassed by Neymar at international level and has also lost ground to some of those he rose through the ranks with at Milan.

Take Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for example. Both were at the San Siro at the same time, but while the Gabon international never played for the first-team, he has undoubtedly had a better and more prolific career. 

Pato did, however, enjoy the greater spell in Italy. In fact, he was superb for I Rossoneri, netting 63 goals in 150 appearances. 

The Brazilian had three terrific campaigns from 2008 to 2011, but injuries followed. In Milan, he missed 66 matches with various issues, most of which were muscle related.

He played only 18 games in 2011/12 and then after taking the number 9 shirt from the retired Inzaghi the term after, it didn't go according to plan. Pato played four times in Serie A in 2012/13, failing to score. As a result, he was awarded the 2012 Bidone d'Oro, a satirical prize given to the worst player in the league over a season.

Alexandre Pato

That all but ended the attacker's time in Italy, moving back to his homeland with Corinthians. If you had tipped Pato to go anywhere during his early days at the San Siro, it surely would have been to a much bigger club.

Therefore, his career was now going backwards. He scored nine goals in 30 league appearances but was mercilessly torn to shreds by supporters for missing chances. Thus, a loan spell to Sao Paulo emerged in 2014 and 2015.

It was there where he rediscovered his mojo, bagging a haul of 26 goals in 59 outings. It was a period and run of form that subsequently earned him a move back to Europe at the age of 26.

The striker was given an opportunity by Chelsea but after joining the Blues on loan in January 2016, he scored once in two games - a penalty against Aston Villa on his debut. 

His fitness meant he missed 11 matches at the start of his stay in west London before heading to Spain and Villarreal. Again he struggled, finding the net twice from 14 league outings. 

Alexandre Pato with Chelsea

What was next for Pato? China, of course. He became one of the lucky players to earn a mega-money contract in the Chinese Super League, a competition he found all too easy. Pato rediscovered himself in that part of the world, scoring 36 in 60 for Tianjin Tianhai.

After two years in Asia, he went back to Brazil, but after beating the goalkeeper on nine occasions in 35 matches during a second stint with Sao Paulo, had his contract terminated.

His next destination? It could well be Birmingham City.

Reports from Italy towards the end of October stated that he was on the Championship club's radar and could make the move on a free transfer. However, Italian side Monza were also reportedly chasing his signature.

Alexandre Pato signs for Sao Paulo

That would be a symbolic move for many reasons. They are currently owned by Silvio Berlusconi, the man who was Milan chief when Pato first moved to Europe in 2007. Coincidentally, the 31-year-old has also dated Berlusconi's daughter, Barbara. 

Pato's party days may now be behind him, but this doesn't particularly seem like a match made in heaven.

However, when has the Brazilian ever done anything by the book? His career has been a rollercoaster from the start. 

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