Tianjin Quanjian is looking to re-ignite their interest for Milan’s misfiring striker Nikola Kalinić, by offering former Milanista Alexandre Pato as part of a swap deal for the striker.
The Chinese Super League club previously approached Milan months ago before the Chinese transfer window opened on 1st January 2018, spurred on by then-manager Fabio Cannavaro’s interest in the Croat.
Since then, however, Cannavaro has left his post at Tianjin Quanjian to return to managing Chinese giants Guangzhou Evergrande. The Italian’s interest has not faded, with Chinese media speculating that Guangzhou Evergrande’s deeper pockets might be able to lure Kalinić to finally accept a move to China.
The Tianjinese club’s interest has not faded even with Cannavaro’s departure, but has since gone up, with the new Tianjin manager Paulo Sousa seeking to swap new signing Alexandre Pato for Kalinić, according to GBTIMES.
Kalinić previously played under Sousa at Fiorentina for two season, with the striker finding the back of the net 33 times in 84 games under the Portuguese coach.
On the other hand, it remains to be seen if Milan is willing to let go of their Croatian experiment. Kalinić is currently on a season-long loan deal with the Rossoneri from Fiorentina, with a mandatory buy-out clause of €20million attached to the contract.
It is also unlikely that Milan would wish to swap an inconsistent striker for another, even if the incoming individual is Milan cult hero Alexandre Pato. Since leaving Milan in 2013, Pato has bounced around clubs in Europe and South America without being able to replicate his successes at Milan, before joining Tianjin Quanjian for €18 million last year.
Pato has since flourished in China, scoring 17 goals in 26 games thus far in the half-season he has had. The Brazilian has previously teased at a return to the San Siro on social media and in interviews.
It is worth noting that he has been left out of Tianjin’s squad for the Asian Champions League, hinting at a possible exit on the horizon.