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Keep or Return: Alexandre Pato's 2015-16 season in review

Taking a look at the good, the bad, and the ugly of each and every Chelsea player's season. Next up, Alexandre Pato, the once world-class prospect looking for a second chance.

Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Appearances: 1 start (+1 as substitute)
Minutes: 131 in Premier League.
Statistics (in total, Premier League): 1 goal scored (via penalty kick); 4 shots (2 on target); 3 fouls suffered.

Brazilian striker Alexandre Pato arrived at Chelsea without much fanfare on a six-month loan deal from Corinthians.  Once a world class teenage prospect who impressed at AC Milan, Pato, now 26, had been back in Brazil for the past three seasons trying to get over his personal injury hell, which had devastated and sidetracked his once promising career. While he had managed to stay healthy and scored a fair few goals playing as a striker and a left winger during that time, Pato's days as a stop striker were long gone.  The loan was looked upon as his last, best chance of making it in Europe.

It was not a fast start for Pato, who hadn't seen any playing time since November of the previous year when he played his last game for São Paulo (on another loan from Corinthians) in the Brazilian League. He had to be put on a pre-season fitness and training program and it took him two months to finally make his debut.

Eager to please and prove himself, Pato took the stage with the utmost joy, coming on as an injury-enforced first-half sub on April 2nd for Loïc Rémy.  Facing hapless Aston Villa, just 20 minutes later, Pato won and converted a penalty kick.  With that, Pato kept his personal record of scoring a goal on every single debut he's ever had with a new club in his career alive (five-out-of-five is mighty impressive). He would be involved in two more goals in that 4-0 win over Villa, showing good link-up play on Oscar's goal and pseudo-assisting, by way of the goalpost, on Pedro's goal.

The impressive showing against Villa earned the ultra-delighted Pato a start in the very next match, against Swansea City at the Liberty Stadium. This time however, Pato was far less successful as Swansea, unsurprisingly, proved a much bigger challenge than last-place Aston Villa. He did manage to get into good positions a few times, but his atrocious (and at least once, overly elaborate and cute) finishing left Guus Hiddink and the rest of Chelsea's coaching staff fuming on the sidelines.

Pato was subbed off for young Bertrand Traoré in the 65th minute of the game and was never heard from again.  He made the bench in 5 of the last 6 games, but Hiddink opted to give Chelsea's own youth the substitute appearances instead.

The Good: A great debut for the striker against Villa, followed up by a wonderful post-match interview.  Plus, Duck jokes and an infectious smile.

The Bad: A not so good second appearance against Swansea City.

Verdict: It's quite hard to make a fair assessment when the sample size is so extremely small, though perhaps that fact alone speaks volumes.  Unsurprisingly, most signs seem to point towards Pato returning to his parent club Corinthians by the end of his loan contract on June 30th.

Should Chelsea exercise the buy-option, he could potentially be an interesting choice as back-up to Costa (or Lukaku?) or even to Eden Hazard (Pato really enjoyed playing as a left winger in his time at São Paulo before heading to England), but the money spent on his purchase could probably be better spent elsewhere.  With plenty of promising strikers coming up through the system (Abraham, Solanke, etc), Pato would be a redundant and relatively expensive solution to a minor problem.

It does appear that Pato has some talent, health, and determination left in his tank even though his short spell in the Premier League wasn't an absolute triumph.  Whether in Brazil or in Europe, he will likely find success somewhere... but that somewhere probably won't be at Chelsea.

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