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Pato deal a sign of security for Milan, says coach

The new five-year deal AC Milan have agreed with Brazilian forward Alexandre Pato is a good sign for the stuttering Serie A club's future, coach Leonardo said on Saturday.

"Pato is a very important player for this team, he's only 20 and has a career in front of him," Leonardo told reporters. "Renewing his contract is a good sign of continuity, showing a desire to think of the future. He has become a transfer target, so this is a big source of security for us."

The Brazil striker, who was linked with Chelsea in the close season, is blessed with enormous skill and speed but has only shown flashes of his great potential since moving to Milan from Internacional two years ago.

He got off to a flying start this season, scoring a double in Milan's 2-1 opening day win at Siena, but his performances since have been disappointing, as have the rest of the team's.

"(The form of) Pato is not an issue. We just have to put him in better conditions to be able to express his talent," said Leonardo, whose team lie 11th in Serie A with seven points from five matches ahead of Sunday's home game against promoted Bari.

"We've had some ups and downs, but the basis of the team is great. Good results will help us grow and I'm confident this will happen."

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