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Alexandre Pato: A publicity stunt gone wrong

Waste of money, waste of time? / Image via chelseafc.com

Waste of money, waste of time? / Image via chelseafc.com

Thinking about it from safe distance it is getting increasingly hard to envisage what Chelsea wanted to do with Alexandre Pato when they decided to sign an unfit player in January.

The 26-year-old Brazilian striker has not played a single minute since the end of November and Chelsea’s decision to sing Alexandre Pato on loan in January was considered odd to begin with.

Still, it has now been the second month into Pato’s loan at the Stamford Bridge and Brazilian forward’s fitness is raising more question over why Blues went for former AC Milan star in the first place.

Was is the quality?

With Diego Costa out of form towards the end of 2015 and Loic Remy, Radamel Falcao out of favour, Chelsea needed to find the solution upfront.

The club’s hierarchy opted to go for a sound name, for a player of established reputation, who was expected to be an instant hit with the first-team.

They chose Pato instead.

Alexandre Pato has a vast career under his belt, despite still being relatively young for a striker. His undeniable qualities as a footballer were at display in Brazil in 2015, when Pato played 56 matches as a loan for Sao Paulo, impressing with restored confidence, pace and agility which came as huge contrast to his struggling years in Italy.

Pato’s skill and technique were overshadowed by difficult injuries which troubled him for the great part of his career and Pato was denied the chance to get to the peak of his form because of numerous fitness problems.

It is unthinkable that Chelsea were unaware of his current fitness struggles as they chose to sign him, so what might the other reasons be?

Was it publicity?

The Blues had a lot of choices during the January transfer window.

They could have gone for the Premier League top striker from last season, Charlie Austin, who ended up going to Southampton during winter.

They could’ve also gone for the name that was under their noses the entire time, but Patrick Bamford, just like Charlie Austin, is simply not fashionable enough. Chelsea bosses apparently believe that big name is a guarantee of success, their decision to bring in Pato can also be interpreted as an attempt to pacify the disillusioned fans, who were unhappy with the team’s results.

So instead of offering their young pearl Bamford a chance to shine they opted to bring in an unfit player, whose time at Chelsea so far can be described as a ‘publicity stung gone wrong’.

A high-value player, unfit and on the sidelines possess little marketing value and Chelsea should now learn an important lesson from Manchester United who are grabbing headlines with Marcus Rashford, a young gun who has taken the Premier League by storm.

Will we see Pato on the pitch anytime soon?

The Brazilian is included in the revised Champions League squad ahead of Radamel Falcao, but Alexandre Pato is not expected to be included in any way into the return leg of the last 16 against Paris Saint-Germain.

Chelsea are standing as slight underdogs at 12/5 to emerge victorious from their rematch against the French champions.

Pato will be watching his team try to overturn the 2-1 deficit from the first leg in Paris, when Mikel scored the only goal for Guus Hiddink’s team. An away goal gives Chelsea a shot against the Saints and Pato will hope his team will progress through as it can define his own stay at the club as well.

Pato has been given a special training regime and double sessions in bid to get match fit, but Blues fear it could be up to six weeks before the 26-year-old Brazilian reaches full fitness.

However, with Chelsea still competing in the Premier League and the FA Cup, along with the Champions League, Alexandre Pato could have plenty of opportunity to prove his worth upon reaching full fitness.

His unavailability is now starting to become a huge burden for Blues though, and Chelsea will have to think twice before exercising the buy-out fee at the end of the season.

Having in mind that he is still far away from making his debut appearance for Chelsea, it is hard to imagine that Blues will fork out £11 million to buy his contract and bring him on permanent basis.

Tue 8 Mar, 2016
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