Former AC Milan striker Alexandre Pato has looked back on his time at the club and also gave some advice to Rafael Leao over his future.
Pato began his career as a youth player for Internacional and then signed for Milan in the summer of 2007. He had a breakout year in 2009 as he scored 18 goals in 42 matches in all competitions, which earned him both the Golden Boy and Serie A Young Footballer of the Year awards.
However, the feeling is that the Brazilian was never really allowed to reach his full potential due to a series of frustrating injury problems which saw him return to his home country and then have unsuccessful spells at Villarreal and Chelsea.
Pato spoke during an interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport that was published on derby day and he spoke about a number of topics from his time at Milan to a potential Serie A return, with his comments relayed by PianetaMilan.
On Milan and the problems when he was there: “The premise is that there was a fair number of legends in my dressing room… There was only one key to understanding it: there was no difference between training and matches, the attitude was the same. A nice thing.
“I was lucky enough to see Maldini train 110% every day. He arrived earlier, did extra work. Ibra the same. Cafu the same. Champions who didn’t think about the clock, but only about working as best as possible. So more than talking, for understanding the right path was enough to observe.
“As for the current situation, I can only say that if you use the same attitude as last year it is not good. Sometimes the management that follows the wins is more complicated than when you don’t win. However I am sure that Pioli will turn the light back on because he’s a great coach. I’d like to meet him.”
On Leao: “He has to do what he feels with his heart, because sometimes you have too many people around who tell you what to do. He has to decide what he thinks will make him happy. In any case, Leao has a home at Milan, he has everything he needs. And he has fantastic characteristics. If I can give him some advice, I’ll tell him to always remain outside. In some things on the pitch we are similar.”
On what it feels like to score at Inter: “Goosebumps. You think about that all week, before the game my belly was tingling and when you score the only thing that comes to mind is: ‘Mamma mia, how nice that is…’ You feel as if you were ten kilos lighter. Seeing the Scudetto party was like reliving mine in 2011.”
On the possible decisive derby man: “Rafa can make the difference, but I also really like Giroud. He’s a friend of goals, and he already knows how to do it in the derby.”
On De Ketelaere: “When you arrive at Milan, especially if you’re young, it’s sometimes complicated to get going right away. There’s pressure everywhere, from the fans and the media. I believe that he, together with Milan, will experience a rebirth in February and will the opportunity to make up for it.
“You need patience just like what happened with Leao, I’m sure he’ll do very well. But he’ll always have to keep his attention high, also because he’s not passing through Milan.”
On a derby between Inter and Milan without Ibrahimovic: “When he stops, he’ll have to stay in the dressing room. His role is that: to make the younger players understand that there’s a difference between winning and losing.”
On his future: “I’m doing my rehabilitation here, I still have 3-4 months of work left but I’m confident because I know that God has a bigger plan for me. I’d really like to go back to Europe.”
On a possible call-up from Monza: “I’m delighted for Monza. Berlusconi and Galliani are always in my heart. I’m sure that in a few years Monza will challenge Milan and Inter. I had already spoken to Berlusconi and Galliani before the promotion, but non-EU citizens are not allowed in Serie B. We’ll see now, maybe now that they’re in Serie A I’ll get a message from them…”
Would be so good to see Pato in serie A again