Éder: Braga's Beast Can Revitalise Arsenal's Forward Line

Despite a hefty price tag and recent injury, Braga striker Éder is still garnering interest from the likes of Arsenal and Spurs. Find out more about the man who terrorised Man United's defence in the Champions league...
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Despite a hefty price tag and recent injury, Braga striker Éder is still garnering interest from the likes of Arsenal and Spurs. Find out more about the man who terrorised Man United's defence in the Champions league...

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Éder: £16m price tag

After a breakthrough season in the Portuguese top flight, Eder has been linked with an assortment of clubs including Tottenham, Lazio and Manchester United. Most recently, reports suggest that Newcastle and Arsenal are considering a move for the athletic forward, who scored 13 goals in 18 games for Braga this season prior to tearing his cruciate ligament.

Before considering the on-field pros and cons of a forward who terrorised Manchester United (albeit with a makeshift defence) in the Champions League last October, let us address two clear drawbacks facing any club thinking of bidding for the strapping six-footer.

As mentioned, the 25-year-old is recovering from a potentially career-threatening injury sustained against Benfica in March. Reports indicate that surgery on Eder's torn ligament was a success, but the striker's long list of admirers must be aware that a full recovery from 'doing your cruciate' is not a given.  For every Ruud Van Nistelrooy, who returns to his previous level, there is a Paul Gascoigne or Michael Owen who lose that special something that set them apart.

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Secondly, Eder has looked a worldbeater for months, rather than years. He has always had promise, but this season stands alone as the only one in which he has really found his shooting boots. In fact, prior to joining Braga he had an unenviable strike-rate of roughly a goal every seven games.

To put that in context, just down the road from Braga's AXA Stadium is a Colombian striker going by the name of Jackson Martinez - who topped the Primeira Liga goalscoring charts in his first season at Porto. Only a year older than Eder, Martinez has a career total of 108 goals, while Eder has just 36. Martinez' buyout clause is €40m, while Eder's is €30m. Put simply: there may be more prolific, more proven - and, currently, less-injured - options available for a few euros more.

Despite these reservations, however, it is only fair to highlight why big clubs are falling over one another to sign a late-developer undergoing rehab.

It is certainly true that, before his injury, Eder was not only looking the part of a player who could secure a move to a bigger club, but also one who could nail down Portugal's number nine shirt for next year's World Cup in Brazil (should the 'Selecao' qualify).

Portugal have been crying out for a prolific striker since Pauleta retired in 2006 and coach Paulo Bento handed Eder his international debut last September. Although the 25-year-old has yet to score for his chosen country (he was actually born in Guinea Bissau), his athleticism and all-round goal threat have marked him out as the most obvious replacement for journeyman Helder Postiga.

While his goal record sheds doubt on his ability to hit the net year on year, there are few questions regarding his talent. Possessing a decent touch, Eder's prime assets are the speed and strength to run top defences ragged, as clearly evidenced against United (ask Michael Carrick...) and Galatasaray in the Champions League.

What may be particularly attractive for his suitors is how effective he can be as a lone striker - the majority of his time at Braga seeing him play as the attacking spearhead of a side geared towards counter-attacking football (the hallmark of Europe's most successful teams).

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Up top on his own, Eder's mobility and dynamicism have allowed him to stretch defences with his movement, but he has also proved an intelligent and reliable targetman for attacking midfielders, such as Ruben Micael and Mossoro, to link up with.

Although he can occasionally miss a sitter, one shocker against Galatasaray still fresh in the memory, Eder's impressive season has showcased an all-round goalscorer, capable of finishing with his head (notably a thumping 'Eder' against Pacos de Ferreira) and with the ability to score off either foot.

His smart finishing when balls are played across his body has been particularly good and could come in handy somewhere like Arsenal or Tottenham, where the likes of Walcott and Lennon provide genuine width.

If interested, Tottenham may be the frontrunners for Eder, as he played under Andre Villas Boas at Academica and has also shared the same agent. Decisions on his future will be on hold, however, as Braga are currently coach-less after parting company with Jose Peseiro this week.

It will be interesting to see if Eder does move, as spending £16m (the lowest figure Braga will reportedly accept for him) on a convalescent with just one prolific season under his belt is - whichever way you cut it - risky