Brazilian Pato reborn at Chinese league high flyers

Sports | Jul 18, 2017
Brazilian Alexandre Pato is rediscovering his love for football in China after his career had nosedived before he reached his prime.

The 27-year-old forward hit a cracker from long range in Tianjin Quanjian's 3-0 weekend win over Shanghai Shenhua, who have ace Argentinian marksman Carlos Tevez in their ranks.

But while Tevez has just two league goals in a injury-hit season, Pato has hit nine goals in 16 Chinese Super League matches - eight in his last 10 - during his debut campaign and is flourishing under Italian World Cup winner Fabio Cannavaro.

"Believe in yourself," Pato said after a win that took Tianjin to third, summing up his rejuvenation after a bad five years that included a disastrous spell at Premier League side Chelsea.

For Pato is scoring and making goals again.

"I'm not surprised - we were aware of his ability before we bought him," Cannavaro said.

Pato was touted as a superstar in the making when as a 17-year-old in 2006 he shone in an Internacional side who beat Barcelona in the Club World Cup. In 2007 he signed for AC Milan, where 18 goals in 42 matches saw him win Serie A's young player of the year award and a first cap for Brazil.

But after Milan won Serie A in 2010-11 injuries took a toll and Pato's form fell off alarmingly. He went back to Brazil in 2013 for an unsuccessful spell at Corinthians and then went on loan to Sao Paulo and last year to Chelsea, where he barely featured and looked shockingly out of shape.

La Liga side Villarreal picked him up for 3 million euros (HK$26.8 million) last summer but by January had seen enough and cashed in for 18 million euros when Tianjin came calling.

And he paid back the Chinese club.

"I'm not just happy," Cannavaro said. "I'm also very proud of him."


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June 2018