Five better free agent options Birmingham could take over Alexandre Pato
Earlier today, news came through via Italian source Calciomercato that Birmingham City were one of four sides in the hunt for recently-released free agent striker Alexandre Pato.
Most famous in European football for his time with Serie A giants AC Milan, Pato also starred in his native Brazil over two spells with Sao Paulo – the side who released him in late August this year.
AC Milan paid £21.6m to bring him to Europe from Brazilian side Internacional, Pato repaying il rossoneri with 63 goals and 18 assists in 150 games. According to Calciomercato, three Italian sides in Genoa, Spezia and Monza are also in the hunt as well as Aitor Karanka’s Birmingham City to give Pato a football lifeline.
However, his only foray into English football proved to be somewhat underwhelming. A six-month loan deal to Chelsea between Jan-June 2016 showed just two appearances and one goal as the 27-cap Brazilian international faced a fitness hike and players returning from injury.
There’s little doubt that he would be a hit in the Sky Bet Championship, he’s got the quality and pedigree after all. However, here are five other free agent strikers who Birmingham City might consider who’d be a better fit than Pato.
One from the Premier League: Oumar Niasse (last club – Everton): Niasse has been a free agent since leaving Everton at the start of July. He cost the Toffees £16.1m in a 2016 deal from Spartak Moscow and played 42 games for them, scoring 9 goals and providing 4 assists. He has 65 games of experience (12 goals/4 assists) at Premier League level and 3 goals in nine appearances for the Senegalese national side.
One from the Sky Bet Championship: Rudy Gestede (last club Middlesbrough): Gestede cost Boro £6.4m when bought from Birmingham’s city rivals Aston Villa in 2017. After a fractious time with fans on Teesside, the powerfully-built Gestede was released at the start of July this year. He’s a proven Championship striker with 48 goals and 18 assists in 178 games at this level. He also has 51 games of Premier League experience with 6 goals. A handful but one that Birmingham City might be confident that they could reel in.
One from League One: Tomer Hemed (last club Charlton): 38-cap, 17-goal Israeli international Hemed last featured in a single-season spell at League One Charlton, featuring 19 times without scoring in their relegation from the Championship. Was a standout for a good Brighton side when they were in the Champoinship. Hemed has 35 goals and 9 assists from 126 games at Championship level as well as experience in La Liga and the Premier League. Could easily do a job for Aitor Karanka’s side.
One to return from overseas: Wilfried Bony (last club – Al Ittihad): Bony is a striker who has accumulated over £61m in transfer fees from sides wanting to buy his services. Swansea paid £14.4m of this to bring him in from Vitesse Arnhem in July 2013; Maqnchester City doubling that to £29.1m to sign him from the Swans in 2015. Two years later, he was back at the Welsh club in a deal worth £11.7m. He’s scored wherever he has played, amassing 155 goals and 41 assists in 331 games. Last played in Saudi Arabia for Al-Ittihad where he scored 5 goals in 10 games before being released at the start of this month. Would be one to consider at St Andrew’s.
The bad boy to tame: Mario Balotelli (last club – Brescia): Balotelli is a player that had it all but, unfortunately, comes with much, much more as well. His pr=odigious talent has seen transfer fees of nearly £63m rack up for his services: Manchester City paying Inter £26.6m for him in 2010, AC Milan paying the Citizens £18m for him three years later and Liverpool matching that £18m to take him from Milan a year later. He was loaned back to Milan for £10m a year later and Liverpool cut their losses sending him on a free transfer to Nice in 2016. Balotelli has scored goals in all leagues (52 in Serie A, 41 in Ligue 1 and 21 in the Premier League; but it’s that baggage that he comes with. Would be a risk but could Birmingham tame his wildness?
Go for class and less hassle.
Another free agent striker.
More suitable options out there.