MILAN, Italy -- European champions AC Milan have won the race to sign 17-year-old Brazilian forward Alexandre Pato from Internacional, the Italian club said.
The highly-rated Pato shone for Brazil at last month's Under-20 World Cup in Canada and Milan beat Inter Milan, Real Madrid and Chelsea to his signature following lengthy negotiations.
"The great talent Alexandre Pato will train with Milan and will be able to play friendly matches from the 3rd of September 2007," read a statement on Milan's Web site (www.acmilan.com). "From the 3rd of January 2008 onwards he will also be able to play in the official games."
No further details were given on the deal, which was struck after Milan sent officials to Brazil in pursuit of Pato, who goes by the nickname of "Alex the Duck" in his home country.
Italian media reports said he cost 22 million euros ($30.1 million) and had penned a five-year deal.
Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti was keen to play down comparisons with the club's Brazilian playmaker Kaka.
"It is a different situation from that of Kaka, because when Kaka arrived he was already an accomplished player and older than his age," Ancelotti said.
"Pato is a young, strong boy but he needs to be given the necessary time to grow and mature."
The Serie A club had been under pressure to bring in new faces after vice president Adriano Galliani pledged to bring in one of Samuel Eto'o, Ronaldinho, Andriy Shevchenko, Didier Drogba or Pato.
Eto'o and Ronaldinho quickly said they were happy at Barcelona while former Milan striker Shevchenko looks set to stay alongside Drogba at Chelsea in a bid to prove his worth after a difficult first season in England.
Pato was the easiest option and his signing is unlikely to placate Milan supporters who fear the club are resting on their laurels following May's Champions League triumph.
Ancelotti's side have made no other signings with target Julio Baptista saying on Thursday he was happy at Real.
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press