Published On: Sun, Nov 25th, 2012

AC Milan Club Focus: ‘The Duck’ set to fly away?

“Milan are doing well and Stephan El Shaarawy is doing well, but I want to play. We’ll see what to do with my agent.” Alexandre Pato uttered these words after Milan sealed qualification in the Champions League in Belgium. On hearing his ‘threat’, Milanisti all over the world began to stir in anxiety, anticipating an imminent departure in January.

He might leave along with his Brazilian mate Robinho, who is linked with a move to Santos, reducing Milan to bare bones up front. But, are these transfers necessarily detrimental to Milan? Plausibly, but not necessarily so.

Milan’s attack this season has evolved through Stephan El Shaarawy, a 20-year-old who has stolen Pato’s thunder. Pato (or the Duck, as he is fondly known) is living in Il Faraone’s shadows, a thought the former Milan darling might have quivered at. Pato isn’t quite as loved as he used to be. His supporters have thinned in number and those who adored him aren’t singing his praises anymore.

Pato no longer remains an untouchable. But apart from the loss in his status at the club, the thought of Bojan Krkic starting ahead of his might have damaged his ego. Il Papero has lost pace, movement and ball control since his long-term spell on the sidelines and looks a depleted image of his former self. The initial glimpses of his form are not promising by any stretch of imagination and his market value is plummeting with the passing of every game. Early signs would suggest that Pato may never become the player he once was, let alone the player fans aspired he would become.

Milan are currently building their core, a group of players who will form the identity of the club going forward. Giampaolo Pazzini proved his doubters right by stamping a permanent frown upon the faces of those who banked on his potential at the club. Bojan’s physique will deter him from being Milan’s future number nine. That leaves the board with Pato. The man who dated the President’s daughter has far too many problems to be taken seriously. His goal scoring record in Europe is poor, his work-ethic questionable and his adamant love-affair with the medics frustrates those who believe in him, as well as those who want to.

Milan are at crossroads at the moment and have made the tough choice to tread the rough path. In accordance to this decision, the management had to make some devastating choices. Therefore, cutting Pato loose while he has a respectable market value would be a wise move.

Silvio Berlusconi has decided to strengthen the squad following Milan’s appalling slump this season. Pato’s recent claims could urge Mr. Berlusconi to milk the cow; an option better suited to digging into tattered pockets. Pato’s list of admirers are seated on trunks of gold and would gladly part with some of their overflowing wealth for the highly touted forward. The income from Pato’s sale can be reinvested in two promising players. If Adriano Galliani decided to roll up his sleeves, Milan could make a realistic bid for Fernando Llorente, Athletic Bilbao’s Spanish striker. His contract is up at the end of the season, and hijacking him from beneath Andrea Agnelli’s nose could spark Milan into life once again. Milan might be left with plenty from Pato’s sale to move for a starlet, Granit Xhaka, perhaps?

Milan are trying to build their core without splurging luxuriously. Pato remains one of Milan’s coveted assets. His declaration is not necessarily a threat to leave the club, but one to demand more playing time. With Bojan fitting the system seamlessly combined with Max Allegri’s desperate clutch on the hot seat, Pato’s agent might walk out of a futile meeting. Brace yourselves, because come February, Milan’s front line could look very, very different. Literally.

Follow Rajath Kumar on twitter @rajathkumar. You can also read his AC Milan blog titled Milan and Me; The Love Affair

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