Football: Pato quits Corinthians for Sao Paulo after fan attack

SAO PAULO (AFP) - Alexandre Pato has quit Brazil's Corinthians for Sao Paulo following a weekend attack on players by dozens of disgruntled fans, a spokesman said late on Wednesday.

Former AC Milan striker Pato, a mooted target in recent months for Tottenham, was one of three players singled out for violent attacks by fans who invaded the club's training centre last Saturday.

"The clubs, Corinthians and Sao Paulo, have signed the contract and it just remains for the players to sign," the Corinthians spokesman said.

The 24-year-old now heads across the city to join Sao Paulo with Jadson going the other way.

Pato's move is a loan whereas Jadson's move is permanent.

Corinthians will continue to pay part of Pato's salary and he will neither be eligible to play against his former side nor for the remainder of the Sao Paulo state league.

That lack of action will likely end his lingering hopes of making the cut for the World Cup. Pato has barely featured for his country in recent months - though he did score in September's friendly thrashing of Australia.

Earlier, it emerged that Pato and now former team-mates Emerson Sheik and Peru striker Paolo Guerrero had hired bodyguards fearing further attacks.

Guerrero scored the winning goal just two years ago to lift the Fifa Club World Cup for Corinthians but he and his team-mates have earned the enmity of fans for recent poor form.

During the attack, just four months before Brazil host the World Cup finals - Iran will use Corinthians' training facilities - Pato and his colleagues had to barricade themselves in the dressing room.

Fifa has repeatedly insisted it has full confidence in Brazil's integrated security system to ensure the World Cup goes off without serious incident.

The latest outbreak of football violence in Brazil, following on from a December riot at a match between Atletico Paraenense and Vasco da Gama, saw players threaten to strike.

However, Corinthians fear that the authorities and broadcasters would punish them severely if they do not fulfil their fixtures.

Wednesday saw Corinthians, without Pato, slide to a 0-2 loss in the Sao Paulo league to Bragantino, the club's fourth straight defeat.

Coach and former Brazil boss Mano Menezes confirmed the Pato-Jadson deal, noting that Pato had not lived up to expectations following his 15 million euro (S$25.7 million) move from Milan in 2013.