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Football Whispers

Chelsea complete Alexandre Pato loan signing from Corinthians

Alexandre Pato has completed a six-month loan move from Corinthians to Chelsea, the Premier League champions have announced.

Last week, sources told ESPN Brasil that Pato, 26, had reached a verbal agreement to join the Blues, and the striker flew to London on Tuesday to undergo a medical and finalise the deal.

"I am so happy to sign for Chelsea," Pato said. "It is a dream for me. I am looking forward to meeting and getting to know my new teammates and cannot wait to play.

"I thank Chelsea for their support and hope I can repay this faith to the club and its fans."

Once touted as Brazil's next rising star, Pato has 27 caps and 10 goals for his country but he has not made a Brazil squad since 2013. Corinthians moved him out to Sao Paulo on loan for the 2014 and 2015 seasons and he scored 19 times in 59 league games.

Pato's arrival represents Chelsea interim manager Guus Hiddink's first signing of the January transfer window, with the Dutchman moving to bolster his side's attacking options as Radamel Falcao, on loan from Monaco, remains a long-term absentee with a "very serious" thigh problem.

Hiddink hinted that he could play Pato alongside Diego Costa as he bids to ease the scoring burden on the Spain international, who limped out of Chelsea's 1-0 win over Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium on Jan. 24 after 68 minutes with a minor knee injury.

Alexandre Pato would bring plenty of European experience to the table, having spent five-and-a-half seasons at Milan.
Alexandre Pato has moved to Chelsea on loan for the rest of the season.

Costa has been reinvigorated since the departure of Jose Mourinho in December, scoring six goals over his past six matches in all competitions after netting just four times in his previous 21 Chelsea appearances this season.

Before the deal for Pato was announced, Hiddink said: "I haven't watched him live but I watched him in several videos.

"He was used to playing at Milan as a striker and we want him to play as a striker as well -- but maybe in a slightly different style, second or third to Diego. He must play in that area.

"Recently he played a little bit more as a No. 10 [for Sao Paulo] and he can play on the left or right side of an advanced midfield position."

Hiddink believes Pato's decision to reject a lucrative offer from Chinese club Tianjin Quanjian in favour of proving himself at Stamford Bridge highlights the Brazilian's ambition to succeed in Europe, and hopes he can regain peak physical condition as soon as possible once the move is completed.

"I haven't spoken to him personally, but I've spoken to people around him and said that if he comes here, I want to see a big desire," Hiddink continued. "If he didn't have this big desire I don't think he would have made this big step to the Premier League. Making this step has given him the first step of some doubts that were occurring in previous years.

"With all due respect to the Brazilian league there's a little bit more space. The Premier League is more [high] tempo for 90 minutes, less space, less time. That's why I think you must respect his step to make the decision to come here.

"We'll measure his physical fitness. It depends also on his body whether he comes into shape quickly or not. I think he can be because he doesn't need to lose kilos. I'm curious to see him on the pitch."

Hiddink said signing the forward on loan means Chelsea have little to lose, even if he concedes that there are no guarantees Pato will be able to adapt to the rigours of Premier League football.

"It's not a gamble because it's a loan," Hiddink said before the signing was completed. "If you buy players who must make a next step it's more of a risk. A loan is good for everyone -- to see whether he is happy at this club and whether the club is happy with him after his few months in the upcoming time.

"It's good to have him on loan so we can see what he can bring. When he comes in we have to allow him time to settle down, to get used to a very demanding league. Then it's up to him to make this gap smaller and smaller.

"Now he has another chance to make a step in Europe. It's a brave step and it's up to him. We'll help him to get fit and see what he can bring to this club."

Corinthians still hope to agree a contract extension with Pato, who is in the final year of his current deal and will be able to negotiate a pre-contract agreement with interested clubs when his Chelsea loan ends in the summer.

Liam is ESPN FC's Chelsea correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @Liam_Twomey.


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