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Teen 'Alex the Duck' set for Milan debut
by Paul Kennedy, January 11th, 2008 7AM



[ITALY WATCH] When play resumes this weekend in Italy after the holiday break, all eyes will be on 18-year-old Brazilian Alexandre Pato, who could debut for reigning European champion AC Milan in its game against Napoli on Sunday (TV: Fox Soccer Channel, live, 2:25 pm ET).

Alexandre Pato is only 18 years old, but he is already being hailed as the Rossoneri's savior.

Having failed to win at home in Serie A action this season and trailing archrival Inter Milan by 25 points in the standings, Milan is in need of a shakeup, and fans hope to get it from Pato, who signed with Milan from Internacional last summer but is only now eligible to play for the club.

Milan captain Paolo Maldini is impressed with Pato, whose nickname -- "the Duck" -- is derived from his hometown of Pato Branco in the state of Parana.

"Pato is very strong technically, he can move the ball between his right and left feet and shoot in seconds," Maldini told reporters. "The physical power he has for an 18-year-old is impressive,"

Pato Alexandre, a cancer survivor, helped Internacional win the '06 Club World Cup -- Milan won the '07 title -- and his arrival has the Italian media talking of a new Milan trio -- Ka-Pa-Ro -- after Brazilians Kaka, Pato and Ronaldo.

Kaka is the current holder of the World Player of the Year title and Golden Ball, and Ronaldo, who could return this weekend, has won three World Player of the Year awards and two Golden Balls, but AC Milan vice president Adriano Galliani isn't about to put Pato in their class yet.

"I continually hear Pato's name associated with our possible climb back up the standings," Galliani said. "Pato is certainly a great player, but Milan has also won without him. So let's not put too much responsibility on his shoulders."

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