Lucas Paqueta: The next Kaka or Pato for AC Milan?
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AC Milan caused an early uproar in the transfer market with Lucas Paqueta’s signing. The highly-rated young midfielder is the latest in a long line of Brazilians to move to San Siro. Will he follow the illustrious footsteps of Kaka or slide into oblivion like Alex Pato?
December was a forgettable month for Milan. After a strong start, Gennaro Gattuso’s men stumbled in the year's final hurdle. Before ultimately ending that run against SPAL, they were winless and goalless in four successive matches. Between those pathetic domestic displays, the Rosonerri crashed out of the Europa League.
Gattuso’s methods were culpable. The maverick manager epitomises negative football. The sort that Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte were famous for at Manchester United and Chelsea respectively. He prefers to win dirty with aggression and grit. Fans wouldn't have bothered had it yielded positive results, mind.
Perhaps, the case would have been slightly different had injuries not brought his squad to bare bones. Gattuso didn’t really enjoy the luxury of his entire team during Serie A’s first stanza, especially in midfield. The combination of Tiemoue Bakayoko and Franck Kessie was inapt to provide the missing flair. Paqueta was signed to do exactly that.
Milan paid Flamengo €35million. The 21-year-old whose real name is Lucas Tolentino Coelho de Lima signed a contract until 2023. He has ample time to prove his worth at the European stage. The pressure on the youngster will likely be instant, though, especially given Milan's rich history with Brazilian imports.
Paqueta’s story is a common one. Born into abject poverty, he was spotted playing on the street of Rio de Janeiro. He was singled out as a potential superstar aged just five. Flamengo offered it’s constellation when he turned 10. In another five years, the youngster began to exhibit incredible technical traits.
At just 5 ft tall, however, he grappled with the physical side of the game. Paqueta was much lighter than his pairs. By age 18, he grew to 27 cm (10.6 inches). Just one year later, he was rewarded with a promotion to the senior team.
He made his debut in the 2016 Campeonato Carioca, a competition for teams based in Rio de Janeiro but had to wait until May 2017 to make his Brasileirão debut in a brief cameo. The midfielder then played 88 times for Flamengo, scoring 17 goals and recording five assists across all competitions.
His performances saw him selected to be one of twelve alternatives for Brazil’s World Cup squad and later resulted in a call-up for the roster to face the United States and El Salvador, making two substitute appearances.
What does he bring?
Paqueta brings a whole lot of goodies to Milan. Although a midfielder he could slot into no fewer than five different positions. However, the Brazilian is most suitable in an attacking midfield position.
Exciting on the ball, he has the ability to beat a marker, averaging 4.02 per 90 minutes. This was bettered only by Everton Ribeiro for Flamengo. Paqueta is not just a show-pony. The midfielder created over 50 chances last term, which would key for a Milan team bereft of creativity. Paqueta is also strong in the air and a keen tackler.
The next Kaka or Pato?
Only time will tell. Paqueta comes with the sort hype that accompanied the pair. Being a midfielder, he is being tipped to follow the former. Even the youngster claims he models his game after the World Cup winner.
However, ex-Milan and Brazil shot-stopper, Dida has warned against such comparisons. According to the 45-year-old, they are entirely different players with distinct styles. His words:
He doesn’t have the same qualities of Kaka. Ricky was a trequartista, Paqueta plays in a different position: in midfield or up front, as a false nine.