Hiddink upbeat as Pato seals loan deal to Chelsea
Brazil forward has struggled in recent years, but manager says signing is no gamble
Guus Hiddink insisted that Alexandre Pato’s loan switch to Chelsea is not a gamble as he focused on Sunday’s FA Cup tie against MK Dons.
The Brazil striker, 26, has completed a move that will see him remain at Stamford Bridge until the end of the season.
The Corinthians player has not played a competitive game since the end of November and Hiddink admits it will take time for the forward to recover match fitness.
But the Chelsea interim manager believes the loan arrangement means the deal suits both club and player, who is expected to have no difficulties securing a work permit.
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“It’s not a gamble,” said the Dutch boss. “Coming on loan makes it possible to have a good view of him, whether he’s able to adapt to the high demands of the club and the league.
“We’ll give him all the support in this, but it’s up to him. If you buy those players, with all respect to him, who must take the next step then it’s more of a risk,” the Dutchman added.
“Taking him on loan is good for everyone, to see whether he’s happy at this club and if the club are happy with him.”
But Hiddink said there would be a period of adjustment.
“He has to settle. We’ll give him the time to settle and get used to a very demanding league. Pato was a promising youngster, and also a very stylish player. Then he had a few years in Milan.
“After that, he didn’t make a big step in Europe but went back to Brazil. Now he has another chance to make a big step in Europe, a brave step into England, and we’ll help him to get fit.”
Chelsea’s dismal Premier League title defence means the FA Cup now carries even greater significance.
But it is probably their most realistic chance of salvaging a trophy from a calamitous campaign and Hiddink is keen to repeat his success of 2009, when he led the club to FA Cup success against Everton.
“It’s not just for me,” he said. “I think a club like Chelsea must always go for a title.
“The targets in the past were the Premier League, the Champions League and the FA Cup. We aim the group for targets. The FA Cup is a target.”
Hiddink believes a cup run can only help his team’s efforts to improve their standing in the league.
“Every win helps, even in training, where we play to win,” he said. “The attitude now is there to give everything in every duel, as a team and as individuals. It will help, of course.
“I don’t want to say that [the cup is more important] because we’d be neglecting the beauty of the Premier League, but the next step is about Sunday.
“I don’t want to disrespect the Premier League, but that’s after Sunday.”
Eden Hazard is in line to make his first appearance for four weeks after recovering from a groin problem, but Loic Remy is expected to be missing from the squad with a groin injury.
MK Dons produced a cup shock last season, beating Manchester United 4-0 in the League Cup.
Manager Karl Robinson is hopeful his players can replicate that performance and keep believing that Chelsea can be beaten.
“On the day the players have to perform,” he said. “All the prep and hard work that goes into every game doesn’t mean anything if we go and freeze.
“I know they won’t. I know we’ll try to do our best. The last words I’ll say will be, ‘Go and enjoy the experience.’
“It’s going to be a wonderful experience, playing against some of the best players in the world.”