Alexandre Pato 22 Striker AC Milan
While Neymar takes the headlines, Pato keeps on keeping on. So talented but so unlucky with injuries interrupting his career, the Brazilian striker has an awful habit of breaking down when playing at his best. Appearance wise Pato has missed roughly a third of each season since 2009 with persistent problems, particularly his hamstrings, and while it’s hampering his progress, he still keeps showing just how gifted he is.
The injuries have also undoubtedly stymied his international career, but consider this: despite two separate lay-offs lasting over a month in 2010-11, Pato still scored nearly a goal every other game, netting sixteen times in thirty-three appearances in all competitions. This shows a man who won’t let bad luck hold him back and hits the ground running with each new comeback. It’s not even as if he has suffered a major muscle injury or a season-ender, he just keeps missing a month here, six weeks there and frustrating those of us who know what a huge talent he is.
Despite Milan’s love affair with any striker sniffing for a move from their current employer (like their latest beau, Mr Tevez) Pato remains a favourite and a starter when fit. He’s at the perfect club and is continuing his progress to becoming one of the most intelligent strikers in world football today. Let’s hope a change of luck is in the wind and the 2014 World Cup marks the beginning of his best years.
“Pacy, skilful, and deadly in front of goal, Pato's talent has never been in doubt. Countless injuries, however, have disrupted his progress and could cost him a starting place for Brazil. Pato needs to prove his fitness in order to consolidate his position among the world's best strikers” – Jack Lang (Snap, Káka and Pop!)
C Keep picking yourself up and coming back. For reference, try Robin Van Persie.