Following his half-season stint at Chelsea on a loan deal from Corinthians, during which Alexandre Pato showed plenty of enthusiasm but very little actual form or fitness, the one-time Brazilian wonderkid joined Spanish club Villarreal in hopes of continuing his European comeback. Thus far, he has more or less succeeded in this personal quest, scoring 6 goals and adding 4 assists across 24 matches in all competitions for the Yellow Submarine.
This relatively successful half-season appears to have soured him on the Chelsea experience however. In a lengthy interview with Brazilian news outlet Globo Esporte, Pato reminisced a bit less fondly about his time at Stamford Bridge than he appeared to rate it at the time, revealing shattered illusions (ed. note: more like delusions!) of playing time that ultimately were not fulfilled.
"Guus was very correct from the first day. When I arrived, we talked a lot. Chelsea had two or three players injured. Guus told me: ‘Look, Pato, you know there’s a hierarchy here, we have rules. You’ll be here, and I’ll give you a chance when I can.’"
"I went to Chelsea with an illusion that I would play and show more, so maybe I could stay longer. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to play what I could have played. In the two games I played, I showed my football, I scored on my debut."
"But it’s okay, I learned a different culture, a kind of job, and that helped me a lot. I wish I had played more, but I understand. Twenty days after I arrived, everyone who was injured returned. And I was the last one, had just arrived. It was not what I expected, but it passed."
While Pato might complain about his lack of chances at Chelsea, the two months it took for him to get in shape to play in the first place certainly did not aid his claims for time on the pitch. And that goal he scored against the worst team in the league was “just” a penalty kick, though one that he did win, before having a goal ruled out and missing a glorious chance against Swansea in the next game. He was subsequently put in the basket by Hiddink (alongside Matt Miazga), never to be seen again.
In the end, the Chelsea gamble paid off and Pato got his second chance in Europe after the first one was ended so cruelly by repeated injuries. We wish him continued success at Villareal or wherever he may go after.