AC Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri insisted today that young striker Alexandre Pato will come good despite struggling for form recently.
Pato lost his place in the Milan side to new signing Antonio Cassano last week before regaining his place in midweek, only to be substituted for Cassano in the second half. Some in the Italian press claim he has lost his way and cannot play with Zlatan Ibrahimovic, but Allegri puts his troubles down to injuries.
"If it wasn't for an injury to [centre-back Daniele] Bonera I wouldn't have taken Pato off," he said. "Recently one or two substitutions have been forced by injuries. He's well, there's no Pato issue. He's young and has amazing talent. He has a lot to learn as everyone does but he should stay calm because he's scored eight league goals and two in the cup despite not playing much.
"He needs to concentrate and focus. The more they play together the more Pato and Ibra will click. They've not played much together so far and last year Pato played in a different position. I'm happy to have Pato and I want to keep him and I believe like the others who have been injured, he will prove a great signing for Milan."
League leaders Milan saw their lead over champions Inter Milan cut to just seven points in midweek while I Nerazzurri also have a game in hand. It increased the feeling across much of Italy that Leonardo's team are most likely to be Milan's closest challengers but Allegri insists he is not worried about Inter.
"We don't need to think about Inter, we're in the lead, our destiny is in our own hands," he said. "Inter are doing their thing, as are other teams but they have to do something stratospheric if they want to finish top, as do Roma. No-one has ever made me think that Inter would not be challenging for the title this year. The race is long, it's open but we have to maintain our balance and not think about the others or make any calculations."