Alexandre Rodrigues da Silva (born September 2, 1989, in Pato Branco, Paraná), better known as Alexandre Pato, is a Brazilian Football (soccer) positions striker who plays for AC Milan. He had previously played for Sport Club Internacional between 2001 and 2007 for both the youth club and the senior team. In August 2007 he signed a contract with AC Milan. One of his nicknames, The Duck, comes from the city where he was born, Pato Branco (which translates as Duck). His playing style and technique have also earned him the nickname of “The New Ronaldo”.
Alexandre started playing indoor football (futsal) in his hometown at the age of 3. Soon his ability became known all around the south Brazilian state of Paraná and, after being praised by many of his managers, the teenager went to Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul, to try out for Gremio, his favourite team as a child. However, his family decided that he should sign for Sport Club Internacional. In 2001, at the age of 11, he moved there and started sharing housing with 83 other teenagers that, much like him, wanted to make a name for themselves in the Inter first team.
After a contract settlement that boosted the player’s salary from R$3,000 to R$25,000 and extended his stay until 2009 with a release fee of $35 million, Pato was finally considered ready to start a game in the Brazilian football league.
On his first team debut, at the age of 17, Pato helped Internacional to a 4-1 win over Sociedade Esportiva Palmeiras on November 26, 2006. Pato had 3 assists and scored a goal. His appearance put the spotlight on the young player and created expectations and comparisons with another southern Brazilian superstar, FC Barcelona player Ronaldinho.
Pato scored Sport Club Internacional’s first goal of the FIFA Club World Cup on December 13 in the semi-final game against Al-Ahly, helping the team win 2-1 and a spot in the final. He was taken off the field during the second half because of cramp in his right leg and his substitute scored the second, and winning goal, of the game.
Before his team’s match against Barcelona in the final of the competition, BarÃ§a’s Brazilian star Ronaldinho identified Pato as a player to watch in Brazilian football. Pato failed to impress during the match and was substituted before teammate Carlos Adriano de Souza Vieira scored the winner, ensuring the title for Internacional.
He helped Brazil national football team win the 2007 South American Youth Championship in Paraguay, which qualified the country for both the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Canada and the Football at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China. He was Brazil’s leading scorer in the tournament with three goals.
Pato was linked to several high profile clubs including AC Milan, Benfica, Juventus, F.C. Internazionale Milano, Liverpool F.C., Chelsea F.C. and Arsenal F.C..
AC Milan officially confirmed the signing of Pato on August 2, 2007. The transfer fee paid amounts to the minimum fee clause in Pato’s contract with SC Internacional, US$ 20 million. Due to Italian football regulations that state non-EU minors may not be registered in Italy, Pato will not be able to play official matches for Milan until January 3, 2008, when the Italian transfer window (and registration) reopens. However, AC Milan will be allowed to include the player in exhibition matches and training beginning September 3, 2007, one day after his 18th birthday. Pato made his non-competitive debut against FC Dynamo Kyiv on the 7th of September 2007 and scored a header.
He was voted best under 20 talent in the world in Match! magazine and World Soccer in September 2007.