Milan went on to capture their seventh Champions League title in 2007 and the rossoneri were the world’s best club at the time trailing only Real Madrid for the most CL titles in all of European football with 9 (now 10). Known as “Duck” to many, Alexandre Pato made the €22m move to the San Siro in the summer of 2007 from Brazilian club Internacional, providing Milan fans everywhere with excitement knowing that they may have a potential superstar in the making on their hands. The Brazilian was observed as a key component in the expansion of “The World’s Most Successful Club” for years to come.
Alexandre Pato would score his very first Serie A goal with Milan against Napoli, a goal that welcomed the teenager to the club with open arms. In his very first season with the club, Pato notched an impressive 11 goals in twenty-two appearances through all competitions. Exactly one year later, the now 26-year old would eventually be the club’s leading goalscorer with 18 goals, capping off an impressive sophomore campaign in Italy.
In an injury plagued 2009-2010 season, the ex-São Paulo striker scored two second half goals in a UEFA Champions League win over Real Madrid at the famous Bernabeu. Due to reoccurring injuries, Pato would miss a Champions League draw versus Manchester United which ultimately ended in the club losing to the English side, laying rest to hope of their eighth trophy. The 2010-2011 season marked the arrival of several new faces that would ultimately lead to a Scudetto title. Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Robinho joined Pato in securing the club’s 18th league title in Massimiliano Allegri’s debut season as manager of the Italian outfit. The most memorable performance for Pato in the injury-ridden campaign would come in the Derby della Madonnina win against Inter where he would score two goals for the red and black. At this time, rossoneri fans felt Pato was back in form and that he would solidify himself as Milan’s superstar spark plug.
In a group-stage match of the Champions League the following season, Pato would score one of the fastest goals in tournament history as he put one in the back of net 24 seconds in against Barcelona. Despite an impressive showing against the reigning Champions League winners, Pato acquired the injury bug once again, suffering yet another thigh injury that sidelined him for several weeks.
As the January transfer period arrived, the youngster’s future with the club was in doubt. Milan were heavily exploring bringing in want away Manchester City forward Carlos Tevez. To fund this move, Galliani and the Ligue 1 club Paris Saint-Germain discussed a possible transfer of Alexandre Pato. Rumors continued throughout the month that Pato could be headed to the Parisian side but ultimately, the Brazilian rejected the move, pledging his loyalty and dedication to Milan. It appeared that despite Pato rejecting the French side in favor of a stay in the fashion capital of the world, his time with the club was ticking away.
Just weeks into training for the upcoming 2012-2013 season, Pato’s injury woes continued when he sustained a thigh injury that sidelined him for the first six weeks of the season. At this point, many passionate Milan supporters questioned whether he would ever reach his ultimate potential. The Fall of 2012 would mark the end of Alexandre Pato’s goalscoring with Milan as he netted a goal v Anderlecht in a November Champions League victory.
One year after a near move to PSG, Alexandre Pato’s stint with Milan came to a disappointing yet sad conclusion as he was sold to Brazilian side Corinthians for 15 million euros. The big question on the minds of Milanisti wasn’t “how are Pato and Barbara going to make this long-distance relationship work?” but “will he ever stay healthy and fulfill his superstar, world class potential?”
Alexandre Pato’s move abroad would eventually fund the arrival of Mario Balotelli from Manchester City, providing Milan fans with the chance to bid farewell to one star talent and welcome the arrival of another. Pato, despite his injuries with Milan, netted over 60 goals in 100+ appearances, an impressive tally nonetheless when you consider how many injuries plagued his tenure with the San Siro side.
Alexandre Pato was beloved by Curva Sud and Milanisti worldwide. The skill he showcased while at Milan was truly something special. We all loved his heart, passion, skill and his ex-girlfriend. Many stood by his side as injuries haunted him at Milan but ultimately, the fairytale story didn’t end the way we had envisioned. With a career full of ultimate highs and disappointing lows, many fans like myself remain questioning just what went wrong and what could have been done to help the once-prolific talent grow as a footballer in rossonero. Did the Milan medical staff handle his injuries appropriately? Did he claim to be healthy to prove his worth even though he might not have been 100% match fit? Was then-boss Massimiliano Allegri to blame for the injuries like he was for many other issues? We may never have a definitive answer to any of these questions surrounding Pato.
Since his departure, most fans would be lying if they say haven’t been periodically checking in on the Brazilian international to see if maybe he had figured it all out. Since leaving, the talented attacker scored 33 goals in 105 matches for São Paulo – via transfermarkt.com – providing optimism that he could once again return to Europe and shine.
Alexandre Pato’s Milan tenure sadly left so much on the table. After a very brief stop in London with Chelsea, the ex-Internacional starlet embarks on his newest journey with La Liga’s Villarreal.
Can the 26 year old carry his promise with AC Milan to The Yellow Submarine?