Hiddink eager to see new signing Pato perform

Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink during the press conference on Jan 29, 2016.
Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink during the press conference on Jan 29, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Guus Hiddink will seek evidence Alexandre Pato retains the desire to fulfil his potential and earn a permanent move to Chelsea when the Brazil forward reports for duty at his new club this week.

The English football club announced Pato's arrival on an initial six-month loan from Corinthians on Friday after he attended a work permit hearing in London.

The 26-year-old has not played competitively since November, after completing a two-year loan at Sao Paulo, and will require intensive fitness work at Cobham before he can play a major role for Chelsea.

"I thank Chelsea for their support and hope I can repay this faith to the club and its fans," Pato told the club's website.

Yet, Hiddink is just as anxious to discover whether Pato retains an appetite to thrive, back in an elite European league, where he enjoyed an initially productive spell with AC Milan earlier in his career.

"I want to see that desire in him," said Chelsea's interim manager. "It's difficult to say why he didn't take the next step (at Milan)... Here the tempo is high through 90 minutes, with less space and time. That's why you must respect his decision to come here."

Chelsea will cover Pato's £30,000-a-week salary during his spell at the club, with his position to be reviewed in the summer when he would have only six months of his contract to run at Corinthians.

"I'm curious to see him (Pato) on the pitch in the coming days," said Hiddink, who will start Eden Hazard against Milton Keynes Dons today. "We're short of available strikers. So, the green light was mine to sign him, and a loan is less of a risk for the club."

Chelsea's dismal Premier League title defence means the FA Cup carries even greater significance as Hiddink attempts to avoid a trophy-free end to the season. The Dutchman's side travel to struggling second-tier MK Dons in the competition's fourth round and, having finally struck a decent vein of form, they will be expected to progress comfortably.

Chelsea were humiliated in the FA Cup last season by third-tier Bradford City, who turned on the style to win 4-2 at Stamford Bridge.

Dons, then in the same division as Bradford, also produced a Cup shock, beating Manchester United 4-0 in the League Cup. Manager Karl Robinson is hopeful his players can replicate that performance and keep believing that Chelsea can be beaten.


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on January 31, 2016, with the headline 'Hiddink eager to see new signing Pato perform'. Print Edition | Subscribe