With Arsenal the current biggest spender in the Premier League this summer, the club’s technical director Edu speaks exclusively to Sky Sports News on their transfer activity, working in harmony with Gunners boss Mikel Arteta and why only trophies will do.
Arsenal have spent £121.5million on five new players this summer with the arrivals of Gabriel Jesus, Oleksandr Zinchenko, Fabio Vieira, Marquinhos and Matt Turner.
Their business also seems to translate well on the pitch, with Arteta’s side having won all four pre-season games so far, including a 4-0 thrashing against Chelsea in Orlando at the weekend.
Sky Sports News Journalist Michael Bridge spoke exclusively to Edu, who played for the club between 2001 and 2005 and has been Arsenal’s technical director since July 2019, to discuss the summer so far and his hopes for the upcoming season…
Are you satisfied with your latest signing Oleksandr Zinchenko?
“We’re so excited to have Zinchenko with us here because he’s a player we’ve really targeted. He’s a player who we think really has the characteristics and qualities that will definitely raise our level in the game. ‘crew.
“[The Zinchenko transfer] was planned six months ago, to fuel this post in the best possible way the way Mikel really wants to play.
“Mikel of course knows him better than anyone because they worked together [at Manchester City] but all the information around the player is top. Not just about his qualities as a footballer but also as a person, which for us is so important to have a player like him in the team.”
Can we expect other new recruits?
“I think we have to be prepared for every situation. We still think the transfer window is open and the most important thing is to be prepared for everything, every scenario, because opportunities can arise.
“Clubs can approach us, players probably want to go on loan so there’s still a lot to do but again being prepared for me is the most important thing. [thing] and of course we are very well prepared for almost everything.”
Gabriel Jesus told me you were a big reason for him to join the club – how do you feel?
“No, it’s not me, it’s Arsenal. I’m just part of the process when you come in to sign a player, I’m there in front of the player, in front of the family explaining who you are. I think we, as a club we have to be proud to have a player like Gabriel Jesus here.”
They were asked if they had followed Jesus for a long time: “Of course. This process, I think, really takes seven months to understand each other and talk to each other, because he also has a lot of other opportunities and then he chooses because he understands who we are.”
Did you bring in the players you wanted, even if you didn’t qualify for the Champions League?
“Yes, almost 100 per cent of them. I understand that sometimes players want to play Champions League football, but I think we can also offer players something very special.
“It’s not just the Champions League, but you can be part of a group of players who can achieve something very special for this football club. And then I always ask them if they want to be part of the project that we have built while we are doing.
“I’m sure we’re going to do something very special for this football club and then when I explain to the players, they really understand. [it] and that is why they are here.”
Have you come across players who are not suitable for Arsenal?
“Yes, of course. The reason for meeting the players, meeting the families and talking to the agents is of course that they have to understand us, but I also have to understand them.
“If they fit the template in every way, then okay, we move on. But when I see something I’m not really comfortable with, I move on.”
How close were you to signing Raphinha?
“People think we went too far on Raphinha, because Raphinha was everywhere.
“It’s just that we had a few conversations with Deco because Deco is his agent and I have a good relationship. [with him] – we are friends.
“I just said to Deco, ‘Can you explain the situation with Raphinha to me?’ and it was clear, ‘Edu, we have a good relationship but I’m not going to lie to you, his idea is to go to Barcelona because he dreams of going to Barcelona, and we’ve been talking in Barcelona for a long time ago time’.
“Okay, thank you very much, if anything happens let me know as I can explore and understand the situation. If not, no problem and we continue our relationship.”
In terms of player movement, it’s not easy, is it?
“No, but it’s part of our job to try to create opportunities for the players. I think the most important thing is to make the player understand why he is here or why he has to leave, and then we have to create opportunities.” possibilities with the player’s agents and try to find the best possible solution for the player.
“As soon as you give them a clear idea of what you want to do, it helps the situation. It’s a challenge because you have to find clubs, situations and loans. But again, if you can be direct with the player in a very respectful way, it helps a bit to make the best decision.”
How important is it that you and Arteta agree on a signing?
“One hundred per cent. I will never sign a player that Mikel is not comfortable with, ever. It’s not my style and it’s certainly not Arsenal’s style.
“If we decide to work together, the decision has to be made together. It’s not Mikel’s signings, it’s not Edu’s signings, it’s Arsenal’s signings, so for me it’s the most important thing for people to understand.
“I always say that people sometimes give me credit or give it to Mikel, but the credit has to go to Arsenal. We are Arsenal, we work together and the decision we make is together.
“Around a decision it’s not just Edu and Mikel, it’s a lot of people around those decisions. The most important message for the fans and for people to understand is that we are signing players for Arsenal and [they are] Arsenal’s decisions.”
How impressed were you when Arteta interviewed for the job?
“Wow. When I spoke to him on the phone to introduce myself and talk to him, oddly enough, we were on the phone for an hour talking about everything, not just football but families, concepts, ideas and behaviors.
“When I turned off my phone I thought maybe this was something really special and what we were probably looking for at the club.
“Then when we decided to go there and meet with Mikel to talk about the ideas, he was almost ready for anything. He was really impressive with his ideas, his style and the way he wanted to play, so it was amazing – that’s why he’s here.”
You were with the owners on Wednesday, how supportive were they of the expenses?
“Not just with expenses, because it’s unfair to tie owners just to expenses. They’re very important and sometimes it’s unfair that people have doubts about our owners.
“They’re really committed, they’re really supportive and they’re really present at the club, which really puts us at ease.”
How avant-garde are you?
“We have a plan really in place, so we’re probably in the middle of our project.
“We have to keep improving the quality of the team. We have to make important decisions to improve our team every year, so we have to improve, improve and improve.
“Here we always have to think about winning. I think the club was born to win things because of the size of this club and we always have to think about winning. Every year we have to be better and better.”
Looking ahead to the new season, do you want more than the top four?
“Yes, of course. I respect and we have to be realistic for these situations, but why not put here that I want to win again. I want to be there again as soon as possible. Why not?”
So what is your goal this season?
“With all due respect, even being realistic, I can’t think less than winning things.”
What is your promise to Arsenal fans with the transfer window still open?
“We will continue to work very, very hard for them.”
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