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Edu's Arsenal promotion: What does new sporting director role mean for the Gunners?

17:18 GMT+3 18/11/2022
Edu Arsenal 2022-23
The Gunners announced on Friday that the club legend had been rewarded with a new job, but what will it mean for the club?

Arsenal have a sporting director for the first time in the club’s history.

The news was announced on Friday, with Edu Gaspar - who has been technical director since 2019 - officially being promoted to the new role.

It’s a big move for the Brazilian, who has overseen huge change in north London since he first returned to the club he served so successfully as a player under Arsene Wenger during the iconic Invincibles era. 

“We are delighted that Edu is recommitting his future to the club that he so clearly loves,” chief executive Vinai Venkatesham said joyously.

The timing of the announcement is no coincidence, with Edu having attracted admiring glances from clubs across Europe in recent months.

Arsenal have been well aware of the interest in the 44-year-old and have moved quickly to ensure the stability that has existed at the Emirates over the last couple of years remains.

Edu is a permanent member of staff, so he is not on a contract like a member of the first-team squad would be.

The club can’t give him a contract extension, like they would a player, but the promotion is seen as a reward for the work that he has undertaken and Arsenal believe it shows how committed they are to the Brazilian.

And from Edu’s side, he views his decision to commit to the new position as a message to any interested party that his focus is on Arsenal and nothing else.

“I’m delighted to have this new role which I see as an evolution and consolidation of the way we’ve been working,” he said.

"I look forward to building on the hard work of so many people and helping all of us grow together and enjoy more success, and am thankful for the trust the club has put in me. 

“We move forward together.”

Since coming on board as technical director, Edu’s role at Arsenal has very much been centred around the men's first-team and the women’s team.

That will continue, but he will now also play a much bigger role overseeing the academy set-up.

Per Mertesacker, who is currently academy manager, will not be impacted by the change and his duties will remain the same.

He will continue to work on the executive team at Arsenal, alongside the likes of Edu, Venkatesham and director of football operations Richard Garlick.

The pair - who share an excellent working relationship - will now work even closer than before to develop and improve the pathway from Hale End through towards the first team at London Colney.

"Edu’s promotion formalises his already growing influence over our academy operations,” Venkatesham said. “We look forward to Per and Edu working together to strengthen the integration between our men’s first-team and academy yet further.”

The news of Edu’s new role will have been warmly received by Mikel Arteta.

He and the Brazilian have spent the last few years working tirelessly to reshape the squad and instil a new way of working at Arsenal.

Both share the same vision about where they want the club to be in the future and have a clear plan mapped out to continue building on the progress that has been made since they first started working together in December, 2019.

"I just hope he stays here for a long time,” Arteta said in October amid the speculation over interest from elsewhere.

"I work with him really well, I think he’s a super important figure at the club who represents all the values and ideas we want.

“For me and for the team he is really important."

Edu’s promotion will have very little bearing on his day-to-day working relationship with Arteta.

Arsenal do not believe his extra duties will get in the way of the work he does with the first team when it comes to key areas such as recruitment or contract renewals.

This was a decision taken with stability very much in mind.

The progress at Arsenal in recent years, on and off the pitch, has been undeniable and no-one at the club wanted anything to arise that could threaten that.

Edu has always been viewed as being at the centre of the rebuild by Stan and Josh Kroenke, the club’s American owners, and this promotion is the latest example of the trust they have in the Brazilian.