AC Milan's Pato will field uefa.com users' questions in a special Q&A so send yours before the Brazilian wonder boy makes his debut this weekend against SSC Napoli.
He may have done little else but train since joining AC Milan in the summer, but already expectations surrounding Brazilian wonder boy Pato are sky high. "If Pato continues to do what he does in training, he will get 30 goals by June," proclaimed Milan president Silvio Berlusconi, citing coach Carlo Ancelotti and heightening anticipation ahead of the 18-year-old's competitive debut at home to SSC Napoli on Sunday.
No pressure then. For Milan, Pato's introduction cannot come soon enough. The 2007 UEFA Champions League winners are cast away in the bottom half of Serie A. With just four wins all season, they are closer to the relegation zone than to European qualification. A return of 21 goals from 14 games speaks volumes, and it says everything that Milan fans are having to pin their hopes on an untried teenager to revive a moribund domestic season.
The clamour for Pato is even greater than when Kaká joined the club in 2003 and unprecedented for a player without star stature. The major reason for that is how long Rossoneri supporters have been waiting to see their talented tyro in action. Pato, whose name translates as duck, signed for the European champions from SC Internacional in August for around €15m, after catching the eye with his brilliant performances at the FIFA U-20 World Cup where he scored three times in four matches. He was ineligible to play for Milan during the first part of the campaign, however, because of rules preventing Italian teams from registering non-EU players before they turn 18. Pato celebrated his 18th birthday on 2 September by which time the transfer market, and date for registering new players, was closed. After four months on the sidelines, finally the waiting game is over.
Appetites were subsequently whetted when Pato powered in a header in a friendly against FC Dynamo Kyiv in September. Ancelotti has since compared him to former Napoli striker Careca, and as expected of any hyped-up youngster out of Brazil, Pato is blessed with prodigious skill and an array of tricks. Add to that, pace capable of unsettling any defence and power in the air too and Milan look to have another match-winner on their hands. Most impressive of all, perhaps, is his confidence and he will need every bit of it to deal with the pressure that awaits. Should that remain intact after a tough welcome to the European game by Serie A defences, the Rossoneri will have substance to back up the hype.
"I watched a few tapes of him and was impressed, almost shocked by his talent," Berlusconi said. "I had the same feeling when I watched a tape of Marco van Basten before we signed him. I dream of a Milan side with Kaká, Pato and Ronaldo in attack." Many believe Pato could follow in the footsteps of his compatriot Kaká, including the Ballon d'Or winner himself. "He is very impressive, has great quality and will become a crucial player for this team," Kaká said. "I'm very glad to stay close to him and help him adapt to Italian football." If Pato fulfils just half of Milan's expectations, their hopes of becoming the first team to defend the UEFA Champions League title could yet come to fruition.
In the latest in a series of uefa.com readers' Q & As, Pato will be on the spot to answer your questions so click here to send yours now. Please give your name, age and location.