The news that Eduardo da Silva has moved to Shakhtar Donetsk probably hasn’t come as a surprise to most Arsenal fans.
The squad is, after all, brimming with attacking talent and the forward has endured a long struggle to regain full fitness after a devastating injury suffered against Birmingham City in 2008.
As much as it pains me to say it, it’s the right move for Eduardo. Despite returning to the first team squad this season, the Brazilian-born Croatian has suffered a string of muscle injuries that have left him on the side lines.
At this point in his career, he needs games to fully cement his recuperation from that shock injury. He simply wasn’t going to get that game time at Arsenal, and it’s therefore right that he moves on.
It is testament to his intelligence that he has chosen a club like Donetsk. Although the Ukrainian Premier League might not be the most glamorous of destinations, the club is one that has a lot going for it.
Their home ground, the Donbass Arena, has a capacity of 50,149 and has been awarded a five star rating by those in the know at UEFA. The Moles have a healthy contingent of Brazilians in their first team squad, and most importantly, they have recent pedigree in European competitions.
They impressed in their most recent appearance in the Champions League, but it was 2009 that really capped off Shakhtar’s rise in Europe as they won the last ever UEFA Cup trophy (now re-branded as the Europa League).
As for Eduardo, it would be too easy to write off the 27-year-old as “never being the same after his injury.” Of course, he has struggled, and his ruthless composure in front of goal escaped him last season. Never the quickest, his acceleration looked severely restricted in the games he featured in post-injury.
But he retains his footballing brain, and some of his link up play was poetic.
Indeed, it seems to be the change of system at Arsenal that necessitates his transfer away from the club. Eduardo needs to operate alongside another striker to be at his most effective. Given time to build a partnership, he could be a truly incredible forward.
Usually, you can place a striker into one of two categories: You might see a forward with excellent movement, thoughtful interchanging of passing, but who lacks the instinctive ability to finish; the other kind is the poacher who converts chances for fun, and who you judge of their goal output rather than their wider contribution.
Eduardo is the rare breed of striker that can fulfill both of these roles. Despite his injury-plagued time at the club, he managed a respectable 20 goals in 67 appearances for the Gunners. Looking at his goals-to-starts ratio yields an even more impressive statistic.
In his first season with Arsenal, Eduardo scored 12 goals in 22 starts. Not only was he clinical, but he scored some absolutely sublime goals. The pick of the bunch has to be his outrageous volley against Burnley in the FA Cup.
Beyond his qualities as a footballer, his character and leadership off the field were important in a dressing room full of youthful talent. He is a model professional in times where players are happy to move for money. His decision to go to Ukraine in search of football paints him in the most positive light.
For all these reasons, he was my favourite player for Arsenal, and I, for one, wish him well at Shakhtar Donetsk. Good luck Dudu, once a Gunner...always a Gunner.