Chelsea FC’s signing of Alexandre Pato was criticised quite a lot in January, as the Brazil striker was not in proper physical shape to play every week in the Premier League.
However, the 26-year-old proved his critics wrong by scoring deep into the first half through a penalty, on his debut appearance for Chelsea. Interim manager Guus Hiddink was all praises for Pato after the match, saying that the Brazilian was always pestering his manager to give him a start.
“He was counting down the days, and knocking on the door,” Hiddink was quoted as saying by ESPN. “He was in preseason and I could have brought him on after 14 days or three weeks but it would have been irresponsible.”
Pato, who has been out of action for some time, was going through his pre-season routine in the middle of the Chelsea campaign, confirmed Hiddink. The Dutchman also went on to praise his Brazilian striker, saying that Pato has finally stepped up.
“He was not strong enough to battle in the league. This is a strong league and he would have been killed at that time. We took the time and he also had to deal with the competition — Traore, etc — but he finally stepped up,” said Hiddink.
Another good performer for Chelsea was 20-year-old midfielder Ruben Loftus Cheek. The young midfielder has come into the fore for Chelsea this season
“For Ruben it’s also important not just to play a half or 60 minutes, but gather the substance of the Premier League,” said Hiddink.
Is Pato really the answer to Chelsea’s problems?
While it was a good start for Alexandre Pato, the Brazilian still has a lot to prove in a Chelsea shirt before his season at the club is over. A goal scored from the penalty spot is not a great indicator of a player’s form, and Pato will have to prove that he can score from set pieces, before he is really considered as a threat to Diego Costa’s monopoly on the striker’s position at Chelsea.
Also, with Bertrand Traore in good shape, Pato will have great competition when Costa’s ban gets over. The 20-year-old Burkina Faso international has scored two goals from three Premier League appearances (off the bench), and has been showing real promise lately.