Pato left out of Villarreal squad as China move nears

Valencia, Jan 28 (IANS) Villarreal have omitted Brazilian striker Alexandre Pato from their squad to play Granada in the La Liga football championship on Saturday as speculation mounted about an imminent move to China.

The 27-year-old is said to be in advanced talks to join Chinese Super League club Tianjin Quanjian before the close of the European transfer window next Thursday, reports Xinhua.

At a press conference on Friday, Villarreal coach Fran Escriba said the Brazilian had received an offer to move, but did not provide details.

“We are analysing the situation,” Escriba said. “It’s difficult to include him in this match because he has an attractive offer to leave and we can’t take any risks.”

Pato has struggled for consistency since joining the Spanish club from Corinthians in July, managing just six goals in 24 appearances.

Tianjin Quanjian coach Fabio Cannavaro is understood to be a fan of the former AC Milan striker, who is contracted to Villarreal until 2020.

The Chinese outfit already has Brazilian forwards Luis Fabiano and Geuvanio in its squad.

Tianjin Quanjian earned promotion to the Chinese Super League after winning last year’s second division title.