Football: Pato to try and revive career in China

Villarreal FC's Brazilian striker Alexandre Pato celebrates a goal against AS Monaco during their Uefa Champions League playoff first leg match.
Villarreal FC's Brazilian striker Alexandre Pato celebrates a goal against AS Monaco during their Uefa Champions League playoff first leg match.PHOTO: EPA

MADRID • Former Brazilian international Alexandre Pato is the latest high-profile player to be tempted by the riches of China's Super League (CSL), after joining Tianjin Quanjian from Spanish La Liga side Villarreal.

Pato will be coached by Italian World Cup-winning captain Fabio Cannavaro and joins Belgian international Axel Witsel at the newly-promoted team .

"I'm very happy to be part of the Tianjin Quanjian family," the striker tweeted on his official account with a picture alongside Cannavaro.

Spanish media reported Villarreal are set to cash in €18 million (S$27 million) for a player they spent just €3 million on to sign from Brazilian side Corinthians in July.

Pato, who scored just six goals in his 24 appearances for Villarreal, is reportedly set to earn €10 million a season.

The 27-year-old, named the best young player in Europe in 2009, signed for AC Milan before his 18th birthday for €26 million but has never fulfilled his potential.

He was one of the brightest prospects in world football when he signed for Milan as a 17-year-old in 2007. Despite netting 63 goals in 150 appearances for the Italian giants, his first spell in Europe was blighted by injury before returning to Brazil with Corinthians in 2013.

  • €15m 

    The profit La Liga side Villarreal is set to earn from the sale of striker Alexandre Pato to the Chinese Super League's Tianjin Quanjian, having signed the Brazilian for €3 million just six months ago.

Loan spells at Sao Paulo and last season at Chelsea followed before his brief stint at Villarreal.

Another striker who could be China-bound is Watford's Odion Ighalo. The Premier League club have accepted a bid worth £20 million (S$35 million) from CSL side Changchun Yatai and it is understood that Ighalo is discussing personal terms.

The 27-year-old turned down a move to China in 2015 and went on to finish the 2015-16 Premier League season with 15 goals. However, he has struggled this term with just one league goal.

CSL clubs have made a number of high-profile signings recently, with Shanghai SIPG buying Brazil midfielder Oscar from Chelsea for €60 million. Shanghai Shenhua signed Argentinian striker Carlos Tevez for a reported €84 million.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 01, 2017, with the headline 'Pato to try and revive career in China'. Print Edition | Subscribe