Alexandre Pato AC Milan return rumours – Chinese Super League star linked with San Siro move alongside Zlatan Ibrahimovic
- Brazilian enjoyed best spell of career with Serie A side, winning the 2010-11 title
- Tianjin Quanjian forward has a year to left on his contract while Swede might be available from MLS side LA Galaxy on loan
With the Chinese Super League season over, rumours linking Tianjin Quanjian forward Alexandre Pato with a return to European football are only set to increase.
In recent weeks the Brazilian has been reported as a target for former club AC Milan, who are also said to be in the market for another of their ex-strikers Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Pato was absent from the Tianjin side’s all Chinese line-up for the final game of the season. Perhaps he was busy with the local fire service.
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Firemen are never scared. They save something more than just people: they save homes, family pets, hearts, memories and dreams. They are never scared and I think they are among the real heroes of our times. #1day
A post shared by Pato ♛ (@pato) on Nov 9, 2018 at 5:38pm PST
The Brazilian has embraced his time in China, where he regularly posts about his life on social media. He was most recently pictured dressed in uniform with local firefighters on his Instagram account.
He scored in the 2-2 draw with Changchun Yatai last week to make it 15 league goals for the season and ensuring that his side stayed in the CSL next season.
It remains to be seen if Pato will be there to see out the final year of his contract.
There are bound to be changes in store at Tianjin Quanjian, where South Korean head coach Choi Kang-hee has already been employed for next season.
Choi, who spent the last five years at K-League side Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors where the club won three of the last four league titles, replaces Paulo Sousa.
The club lost Axel Witsel to Borussia Dortmund in the summer and are in an ongoing dispute with French striker Anthony Modeste.
Pato recently told Italian newspaper Corriere dello Sport that he has received offers from several Serie A sides and is in contact with Milan’s sporting director Leonardo, who was his manager for a season at Milan, with the pair joking about his return.
His former teammates are in senior positions. Paolo Maldini recently returned as director of sporting strategy and development, while Gennaro Gattuso is the head coach.
Maldini only returned after a nine-year absence once the club became owned by American hedge fund Elliott, who took over from Chinese businessman Li Yonghong in August.
Still only 29, it is nearly a decade since Pato was named Golden Boy while at Milan in 2009. He spent six years at the club from 2007 to 2013 and was top scorer when the side won the league in the 2010-11 season.
Milan have not won the league again, with rivals Juventus winning every Serie A title since.
Ibrahimovic was on loan from Barcelona that season before moving on a permanent transfer ahead of the following campaign before leaving for Paris Saint-Germain.
The Swede has been in the MLS with LA Galaxy since leaving Manchester United and was named in the MLS team of the season this week.
Ibrahimovic hinted to L’Equipe that he may return to Milan, and he has been linked with a loan move. Any deal for the Brazilian hinges on agreeing a transfer fee with his Chinese club.
Pato’s former teammate Axel Witsel has proved that playing in China is no obstacle to returning to European football and making an immediate impact.
The Belgian midfielder provided the assist for Paco Alcacer’s winning goal in Borussia Dortmund’s 3-2 win over Bayern Munich.