The Lions have officially added a duck to the roster to go along with their octopus, bear, and (money) badger. Brazilian forward Alexandre Pato’s signing was officially announced today by Orlando City and so the club has added a talented veteran piece to the attack. Orlando’s announcement stated the signing was a one-year deal, although sources told The Mane Land last night that the club holds an option for a second year. We will, of course, follow up on that, but the option year could have been removed late in the process.
Pato had left his former club Sao Paulo last August, so he was a free agent, making this an affordable pursuit by the Lions. The Mane Land reported the agreement last night. Pato’s salary could rise into the Targeted Allocation Money (TAM) range but is not expected to soar high into that range, nor will it require a Designated Player slot. And so, Pato is a Lion.
— PATO (@Pato) February 13, 2021
“We are very excited to welcome Pato to Orlando. He’s a veteran player who has featured at some of the top clubs around the world and has a proven track record at the international level,” Orlando City Executive Vice President of Soccer Operations Luiz Muzzi said in a club press release. “The experience that Pato brings with him will be invaluable to the club. Pato is a high-caliber player and we’re excited to add another great target up top.”
It was a whirlwind week in the pursuit of signing Pato.
- The Mane Land sources confirmed Tuesday the media reports that Orlando City had made an offer to Pato, with a decision expected by the club’s deadline on Wednesday.
- There was no response on Wednesday and, as a result, sources said that the deal was looking unlikely and that Pato was seriously considering a deal with Argentinos Juniors in Argentina — much closer to home.
- The agreement happened Friday evening, with Orlando City teasing the move with a sly Twitter post.
— Orlando City SC (@OrlandoCitySC) February 12, 2021
The Mane Land learned Friday that Pato’s final decision was influenced by the opportunity to chase trophies at Orlando City after the team’s turnaround under Oscar Pareja in 2020. Apparently he felt his chances of winning at Orlando was higher than with Argentinos Juniors.
Pato has been without a team since August after parting ways with Sao Paulo in Brazil, where he made 20 appearances since 2019, scoring five goals. The 31-year-old has played previously for such clubs as A.C. Milan, Villarreal, and Chelsea, but injuries have limited his minutes at times throughout his playing days. He began his career with Internacional in Brazil, scoring six goals in 10 appearances in 2006-2007. He signed with Milan for 24 million Euros in August of 2007 and went on to score 51 goals in 117 appearances from 2007 to 2013, but he was limited by knocks from 2011-2013.
Brazilian side Corinthians signed him in 2013 and Pato played 30 matches for the club, scoring nine goals between 2013 and 2016. He spent 59 matches on loan with Sao Paulo from 2014 to 2015, scoring 19 times. He also went on loan to Chelsea for two games in 2016, notching one goal.
Pato signed with Villarreal in July of 2016 and started the 2016-2017 season with the La Liga side, scoring just twice in 14 appearances, before transferring to Chinese side Tianjin Quanjian in January of 2017. While in China, Pato was exceedingly productive, scoring 30 goals in 47 appearances from 2017 to 2019. He then returned to Sao Paulo in March of 2019, missing about a third of his first season there.
The Pato Branco, Brazil native has represented his country at the U-20, U-23, and senior levels, scoring 10 goals in 27 first-team appearances.
What it Means for Orlando City
Pato could be a great pick-up for the Lions for the money. The club could use another veteran attacker, who can make spot starts, come off the bench in games, and help mentor second-year striker Daryl Dike (once he returns from Barnsley) and rookie Derek Dodson. A player of Pato’s caliber is a strong addition in an area of need — but not dire need. Tesho Akindele and Matheus Aias are also among Orlando’s forward position group and will look to contribute in 2021.
Pato offers some opportunities to be flexible in formation, as he can play any forward position. This means he could fill in if needed on the left or right, play by himself up top, or work with another striker in a 4-4-2.
The Brazilian will require an international slot, but that shouldn’t be an issue. Orlando should have players approaching green card status and if not, one can be found easily enough via trade.
Orlando City has addressed its biggest needs in adding left back help, goalkeeper depth, and an accomplished veteran striker to take Dom Dwyer’s place on the roster. As Pato can also fill in on the wing, he can also help with Orlando’s need for depth there. The Lions’ roster stands in pretty good shape entering the preseason. That’s not to say that more moves won’t follow. Another center back wouldn’t hurt, although Orlando did address that position in the draft.
We’ve shown you this all week, but here’s a lengthy highlight video to get you ready for the upcoming season: