January loan deals can be difficult for players. Going to a brand new team mid-season and helping them achieve their set goals can be a challenge.
And no-one has quite bore the brunt of expectation quite like Alexandre Pato, who hasn’t been out of the press since arriving in Chelsea. Unfortunately for the Brazilian international, it’s not for the right reason – he hadn’t got on the pitch before last week’s 4-0 thumping of Aston Villa.
But, he finally broke his duck against Remi Garde’s lowly Villans, slotting home a penalty as his side eased to a resounding win. Make no mistake about it, it was great for Pato to get his first goal for the club, yet in Aston Villa he scored it against, arguably, one of the worst sides in Premier League history. Not that he will care.
And it seems like Chelsea fans had ‘Pato fever’ following the game, with a number of Blues supporters praising the on-loan man for his performance and his goal. For the first time in his English career, Pato looks like he could be about to create some real hype for the right reason. He was the butt of so many internet jokes when he first arrived, with some questioning whether he would even feature in a Chelsea shirt.
Well he has, and it seems like he is ready to prove his point following the breakthrough.
It was the shocking immediacy of Pato’s instant impact when he came on which led some to question how long he has actually been mach fit for. He looked as fit as a fiddle when he finally jogged onto the pitch, winning and converting his penalty and playing a big part in Chelsea’s three other goals.
But the question is: can he continue?
He needs playing time, that much is certain. With the season winding to a close and Chelsea ultimately failing to live up to expectations, it is a great time for the former Milan man to be in the side. With the top four a distant dream, he has the chance to play trouble and worry-free, and show the supporters why he was brought to Stamford Bridge in the first place, because there must have been a reason.
Whether he has done, or will do, enough to warrant a permanent deal is yet to be decided, but he’s got the chance to play without the weight of chasing a title on his shoulders.
However, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a point to prove. Since October 2014, Chelsea have spent over £100million on Loic Remy, Radamel Falcao, Nathan, Juan Cuadrado, Danilo Pantic, Asmir Begovic, Baba Rahman, Pedro, Papy Djilobodji, Michael Hector and Pato. It’s the result of an 18-month spending spree that has failed entirely to turn the fortunes of the club around and if it was anyone else but Chelsea, this would have had disastrous financial consequences.
Hopefully Pato can kick on and get back in form following his first goal, but you can bet there will be a few people judging him if he doesn’t.