It’s like a new signing, in a way, as Arsenal have officially Edu’s new position as the club’s first-ever sporting director, which sounds not so much a promotion (although it does expand his responsibilities somewhat) as it is a recognition of the expanding role he’s played since his appointment as the club’s first-ever echnical director back in July 2019. In addition, it recognizes how well he’s performed in that role, overseeing an overhaul of the squad, clearing out all sorts of deadwood and making astute deals. The proof is the pudding, of course, as we are top of the league with room to grow. Such has been his success that Barcelona, that remorseless eatin’ machine, had come sniffing around. This promotion serves than as proverbial middle finger in their general direction just as it solidifies Edu’s role and future right here.
“I’m delighted to have this new role which I see as an evolution and consolidation of the way we’ve been working,” Edu said at the official Arsenal website. This evolution empowers Edu to work more closely with Per Mertesakcer, manager of the U21s and Academy and confirms Edu’s emerging reputation as one of the best football administrators around. As a permanent member of the staff, this isn’t a contract renewal, so he’s not a new signing as my blog title suggested. This is however as close to a “contract extension” as a non-player can get.
Chief Executive Vinai Venkatesham said: “We are delighted that Edu is recommitting his future to the Club that he so clearly loves, after making such a positive and critical contribution to our progress in his time with us so far. “Edu’s promotion formalises his already growing influence over our Academy operations, and we look forward to Per and Edu working together to strengthen the integration between our men’s first-team and Academy yet further.”
When you look at the business Edu has overseen, you have to realize just how fundamentally he’s changed the club. Moving out the likes of Iwobi, Martinez, Guendouzi, Mustafi, Ozil, Kolasinac, Mkhitaryan, Willock, Torreira, Luiz, Willian, Chambers, Aubameyang, Lacazette, Leno, and Pépé would make any executive proud. To have done so while also bringing in Ødegaard,, Ramsdale, White, Tierney, Big Gabi, Tomiyasu, Saliba, Partey, Zinchenko, and Jesus, not to mention Arteta, has shown vision, planning, and financial acuity. It’s rare that rebuilds of this size happen so quickly and so smoothly and with so few detours or screw-ups. It’s really only Nicolas Pépé who stands out as a complete flop, and he was really more of Raul Sanllehi’s project than Edu’s.
As we can see, the early returns are plain to see. We have the youngest and, to this early point in the season, best squad in the Prem, and it’s one that will only get better with age. Throw in a few more astute moves in January (Danilo? Gakpo? Mudryk?), and Edu will burnish his reputation that much more.
Of course, until our lads are holding an actual, legitimate trophy in their hands, this all amounts to very little. I have a feeling, though, that Edu is just getting started.