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Alexandre Pato: Where Did Brazil Striker's Career Take a Wrong Turn?

Alexandre Pato: Where Did Brazil Striker's Career Take a Wrong Turn?

Posted by Juan Gavasa on July 26, 2014

Since Brazil's capitulation at the hands of Germany over two weeks ago now, theories have been rife as to what needs to be done to repair the damage to the nation's reputation. Who needs to be brought in, and how the best can be gained from what is generally considered a limited crop of international-class players to choose from.

The first step has at least been taken, with Dunga being handed the manager's job for a second time. His first test will be on September 5, against the Selecao's World Cup quarter-final opponents, Colombia, in Miami.

But probably the most lamented fact in the Brazilian press at present is the lack of depth in the country's talent pool. Which makes one man's omission from debate about the five-time world champions all the more astonishing—Alexandre Pato.

It is quite hard to believe the Sao Paulo forward does not turn 25 until September. His short career has seen him discarded more often than yesterday's newspaper.

Back in 2009 he was considered, alongside Keirrison, the attacking future of the Brazilian national side, quite possibly the spearhead for their 2014 challenge.

Instead, he is currently struggling to find a place in the Sao Paulo team. The Paulista club recently added Kaka and highly rated forward Alan Kardec to their ranks, and, alongside Paulo Henrique Ganso, Luis Fabiano and Osvaldo, the former AC Milan starlet is finding it a challenge just to get out on the pitch.

The story of disappointment and unfulfilled promise is a familiar one for the 24-year-old. Injuries blighted his final years at Milan, and it was hoped a fresh start back in his homeland could rejuvenate a once enormously promising career.

Corinthians spent over £10 million to bring him to the club at the beginning of 2013 to end his Italian nightmare. It seemed like a perfect match.

The Timao were riding high on a wave of recent success. In 2011 they had won the Campeonato Brasileiro, pipping Rio club Vasco da Gama to the league title.

That was followed up with the Copa Libertadores crown in 2012, and a fantastic 12 months was topped with victory over Chelsea in the FIFA Club World Cup that December.

The addition of a stellar name, and a strike partner for Peruvian hit man Paolo Guerrero, threatened to take Corinthians to ever higher levels. But Pato never got going with the world champions.

Perhaps alarm bells should have been ringing when European giants Milan were willing to offload their forward while he was still at such a tender age. During what can only be described as a lean spell for the Rossoneri, Pato was still deemed surplus to requirements.

In his blog, journalist Paulo Nobre (link in Portuguese) described Pato as the worst signing in the history of Corinthians. The numbers invested in the striker were gargantuan for a Brazilian club, and just a year after his arrival, new coach Mano Menezes dispensed with him once again.

The former Brazil boss is trying to implement his own playing philosophy, similar to that he used when in charge of the Selecao. His team shape does not require a fixed centre-forward, and a trade with Sao Paulo was arranged involving playmaker Jadson, a more versatile option across the front line.

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