As a player, he was imperious as he marshalled Arsenal’s midfield and indeed, he was instrumental in the magnificent Highbury side that became known as the Invincibles; a moniker earned by navigating the entire 2003/04 Premier League season unbeaten. We’re talking Edu, the former Brazil ace who has just returned to the Gunners, though this time not to pull on his boots once more. This time of asking the ex-Samba star has switched back to north London to fulfil the role of technical director — it’s the first time the club have filled this newly created position.
Edu, who was at Arsenal for five years during his playing days under former coach Arsene Wenger, teams up with Unai Emery’s set-up after helping to steer his native country to claim their first Copa America in 12 years — he was employed in a similar role for the Brazil national side, for whom he also earned 22 international caps.
On taking up the role and then preparing to jet out to America for the club’s summer tour there, Edu — who quit playing in 2010 then joined the management team at Brazilian outfit Corinthians — spoke of his delight at his new job and of the special place in his heart for Arsenal. He said:
“I am thrilled to be returning to this great club in this new role. We have a strong squad and some very talented young players with fantastic people at every level. I’m looking forward to helping make a difference.”
Raul Sanllehi, who is the club’s head of football, said the club were excited by the recruitment. And he added:
“He has great experience and technical football knowledge and most importantly is a true Arsenal man. He understands the club and what we stand for to our millions of fans around the world.”
Sanllehi adds that his arrival is the last and perhaps most important part of the jigsaw in the club’s development of a
“new football infrastructure to take us forward. He will be working closely with Unai Emery and the first-team coaches, and will play a relevant role leading our football vision and ensuring we have — and follow — a solid philosophy through all our football activities”.
Meanwhile, the lack of budget at Arsenal could well be affecting Emery’s chance of snaring Real Madrid flyer Lucas Vazquez, according to newspaper reports. The Gunners’ Spanish coach is said to be keen to recruit the wideman but he is valued at around £36million and that would decimate the £40million said to be available to bring in new talent. But other reports suggest Emery has treble that amount — so the truth is probably somewhere in between.
One player seemingly on his way out of Arsenal, albeit temporarily, is utility man Krystian Bielik. He was on loan at Charlton last term and it is said he is wanted now by a clutch of Championship clubs, including WBA and Brentford.