Tuesday 24 April 2018

Hiddink praises 'brave' Pato for joining Blues

Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink. Photo: Matthew Childs / Action Images via Reuters
Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink. Photo: Matthew Childs / Action Images via Reuters

Nigel Whittaker

Guus Hiddink has insisted that signing Alexandre Pato was "not a gamble" as he is only on loan, even though the Brazilian striker will need time to get fit before he can compete for a place in the team.

The Chelsea interim manager praised the 26-year-old's decision to leave Brazil and come to England as "a brave step" for a player trying to get his career back on track, three years after he was sold by Milan.

Pato was in London yesterday attending to the final details of his work permit application and he will not be registered in time for tomorrow's FA Cup fourth-round tie at MK Dons. But there is confidence at Stamford Bridge that his move will be finalised soon.

Hiddink admitted that it would take Pato "a while" to get ready to play. The Brazilian is over the muscle injuries that ruined much of his time at Milan and Corinthians, but he still has not played since a Brazilian league game for Sao Paulo, where he was on loan, against Figueirense two months ago.

"We will measure him, how he is in his physical fitness," Hiddink said. "It depends also on his body, whether he can get into shape quickly or not. Hopefully, he can, because he is an athletic player.

"He does not need weeks and weeks to lose the kilos. I am curious to see him on the pitch in the upcoming days, we will see if he has the pace. That is why it is good to see him, and to see whether he is of big value to the team."

Chelsea will need Pato to get fit quickly. Hiddink said that he would be "second or third to Diego", who is of "huge importance" to Chelsea, largely because of the lack of alternatives.

Loïc Rémy is currently out with a calf injury and could join Newcastle United before the transfer window closes on Monday.

Radamel Falcao has not played since October and is no closer to a return, while Patrick Bamford is close to joining Norwich City on loan for the rest of the season.

Chelsea, then, have a lot riding on Costa's temperament and hamstrings until Pato can get himself match ready.

Hiddink said that the move showed bravery on Pato's part, as he could have continued to play in Brazil rather than test himself in the Premier League.


"He could have been playing in Brazil," Hiddink said. "In Brazil, there's a bit more space to play. Here it's 90 minutes of tempo, less space and less time.

"That's why you must respect his step to come here on loan. If he didn't have this big desire, he would not have made this step to the Premier League. He would have played in Brazil, and life would have gone on."

Hiddink said that the club must "pay tribute" to Ramires after the Brazilian midfielder was allowed to join Chinese side Jiangsu Suning for £25m.

"He had this huge offer from China," Hiddink said. "The club spoke about it, and gave him the chance to get what he could in China.

"The club had the attitude, which I think is to be rewarded, to give him this beautiful transfer." (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport