With Arsenal the biggest spender in the Premier League this summer, the club’s manager, Edu, speaks exclusively to Sky sports news about his transfer business, working in harmony with Gunners boss Mikel Arteta, and why only trophies will do.
Arsenal have spent £121.5m on five new players this summer with the arrival of Gabriel Jesus, Oleksandr Zinchenko, Fabio Vieira, Marquinhos and Matt Turner.
His business appears to be translating well on the pitch as well with Arteta’s team winning all four preseason games so far, including a 4-0 thrashing of Chelsea in Orlando over the weekend.
Sky sports news Reporter Michael Bridge sat down exclusively with Edu, who played for the club between 2001-2005 and has been Arsenal manager since July 2019, to talk about the summer so far and his hopes for the season ahead…
How satisfied are you with your latest signing, Oleksandr Zinchenko?
“We are very excited to have Zinchenko with us here because he is a player that we really target. He is a player that we really believe has the characteristics and qualities that will surely increase our level in the team.”
“[The Zinchenko transfer] it was planned like six months ago, to feed that position in the best possible way in the way that Mikel really wants to play.
“Mikel, of course, knows him better than anyone because they worked together. [at Manchester City] but all the information about the player is superior. Not only because of his qualities as a footballer but also as a person, because it is so important for us to have a player like him in the squad”.
Can we expect more new signings?
“I think we have to be prepared for every situation. We still feel that 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 is still a lot to do, but again being prepared for me is the most important thing.” [thing] And I’m sure we’re very prepared for almost everything.”
Gabriel Jesús told me that you were a great reason for him to join the club. how does it make you feel?
“No, it’s not me, it’s Arsenal. I’m just part of the process of when you’re going to sign a player, I’m there in front of the player, in front of the family to explain who you are. I think as a club we have to be proud of to have a player like Gabriel Jesús here”.
When asked if they had been tracking Jesus for a long time: “Of course. This process really, I think, takes like seven months in terms of understanding each other and talking to each other, because he also has a lot of other opportunities and then he chooses because he understands who we are.”
Have you brought the players you wanted, despite not qualifying for the Champions League?
“Yes, almost 100 per cent of them. I understand that sometimes the players want to play Champions League football, but I think we can also offer something very special for the players.”
“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 a part of the project that we’ve been building as we go.” You are doing.
“I’m sure we will do something very special for this football club and then when I explain it to the players, they really understand. [it] And that’s why they’re here.”
Have you met players who are not suitable for Arsenal?
“Yes, sure. The reason for meeting the players, meeting the families and talking to the agents is, of course, that they understand us, but I have to understand them as well.”
“If they fit the model in every way, that’s fine, we move on. But when I see something that I’m not really comfortable with, I move on.”
How close were you to signing Raphinha?
“People think we delved too deeply into Raphinha, because Raphinha was everywhere.
“It’s only fair that we had some 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 he 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 to Barcelona for a long time.’
“Okay, thank you very much, if something happens, let me know because I can explore and understand the situation. If not, no problem and we continue with our relationship.”
In terms of getting players out, it’s not easy, right?
“No, but it is part of our job to try to create some opportunities for the players. I think the most important thing is to make the player understand why he is here or why he needs to leave, and then we have to create some possibilities with the agents of the player 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, that helps a little to make the best decision.”
How important is it that Arteta and you agree on a transfer?
“One hundred percent. I’m never going to sign a player that Mikel doesn’t feel comfortable with, ever. That’s not my style and it’s certainly not Arsenal’s style.”
“If we decide to work together, then the decision must be joint. 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 that people understand.”
“I always say that people sometimes give credit to me or to Mikel, but the credit has to go to Arsenal. We are Arsenal, we are working together and the decision we make is together.”
“Edu and Mikel aren’t just around a decision, there are a lot of people around those decisions. The most important message for the fans and for people to understand is that we signed players for Arsenal and [they are] Arsenal’s decisions.”
How impressed were you when Arteta was interviewed for the job?
“Wow. When I got on the phone to introduce myself and talk to him, oddly enough, we stayed 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 that is something really special and what we are probably looking for for the club.
“Then when we decided to go there and meet with Mikel to talk about the ideas, he was almost ready for everything. He was really impressive with his ideas, his style and the way he wanted to play, so he was amazing, that’s why he’s here. “
You were with the owners on Wednesday, how much have they supported you with expenses?
“Not just spending because it’s unfair to tie owners to just spending. They’re very important and sometimes it’s unfair if people have doubts about our owners.”
“They are really committed, very supportive and really present at the club, which makes us feel very comfortable.”
How progressive are you?
“We have a plan really in place, so we’re probably in the middle of our project.
“We need to keep improving the quality in the team. We have to make important decisions to make our team better every year, so we have to get better and better and better.
“Here we always have to think about winning. I think that the club was born to win things because of the size of this club and that we always have to think about winning. Every year we have to be better, better and better”.
Looking ahead to the new season, do you want more than just the top four?
“Yes, sure. 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 back there 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 about 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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