Brazil's Alexandre Pato signed a five-year deal with AC Milan on Friday. ((Norberto Duarte/AFP/Getty Images))

Italian club AC Milan won the sweepstakes for Brazilian Alexandre Pato, signing the 17-year-old forward to a five-year deal on Friday.

Milan beat off competition from some of Europe's top sides, including Real Madrid, Chelsea and city rivals Inter Milanfor thedeal that will pay the Brazilian ace $2.9 million per season.

"This was my preferred destination. It's a great club, and there are many of my fellow countrymen who will help me mature and grow," said Pato, who played for Brazil at this summer's FIFA U-20 World Cup in Canada.

The Italians reportedly paid Brazilian club Internacional $31.8 million to procure the talented teenager, who won't be eligible to play for Milan until January 2008.

"Pato is a young guy, very good, but he has to be left the necessary time to grow and mature," Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti said.

"Milan decided to invest in a young man that can help us in the future, because the European Champion team is fine as it is and difficult to improve."

Pato has already been tagged as the most exciting and promising Brazilian player to emerge since Ronaldinho, the former two-time FIFA World Player of the Year now starring for FC Barcelona.

Pato a child prodigy

Alexandre Rodrigues Da Silva, who turns 18 on Sept. 2,commonly goes by the name Pato, a tribute to his hometown of Pato Branco, which translates into English as White Duck.

The Brazilian striker began playing futsal, an indoor version of soccer, when he was only four and earned a scholarship to a local soccer school four years later. That paved the way to him signing with Internacional when he was only 13, spending several years with the club's youth team before making his debut with the senior side last November as a 17-year-old.

Pato made the most of his chance to play with Internacional's senior team, scoring a goal and setting up three others in his debut game, a 4-1 win over Palmeiras. A month later, the Brazilian youngster scored in the semifinals of the FIFA Club World Cup in Japan, as Internacional went on to upset Barcelona in the final.

Two months later, hescored five goals to help Brazil win the 2007 South American Youth Championship in Paraguay. The victoryallowed the South American nation to qualify for this summer's U-20 World Cup and the 2008 Beijing Olympics.