Manuel Veth –
As deadline day approaches all the wheeling and dealing on the global transfer market can make it difficult to keep on track with all the events. Hence, while all the major leagues and clubs move millions of Euros on deadline day some deals almost fall under the table and are almost ignored. The transfer of 2016 European Championship hero Éder from LOSC Lille to Lokomotiv Moscow last week belongs in that kind of category.
Born in Bissau but raised in Portugal Éder became the hero for his country last summer when his shot from distance beat French keeper Hugo Lloris in extra-time of the Euro 2016 final. Portugal were outplayed that day by the hosts and Éder was only on the field, because Portugal’s superstar Cristiano Ronaldo had to go off with a knee injury in the first half of the game.
Of course Éder was brought on in the 79th minute some time after Cristiano Ronaldo was brought off with a knee injury and substituted for Ricardo Quaresma. But it is doubtful whether Fernando Santos would have ever brought on Éder with a healthy Cristiano Ronaldo still on the pitch. The rest became history when Éder hit the ball perfectly in the 109th minute of the match against France.
It was somewhat odd that Éder was even in the squad. Back in 2014-15 he managed ten goals and one assist in 28 league games for SC Braga. A move to Swansea City followed in the summer of 2015, but Éder could never really make it work in England and left the club after just a half-season to join Lille. Playing the spring campaign for Lille he managed six goals and four assists in 13 games in Ligue 1—enough to make the Portugal squad.
Euro 2016 Glory was Followed by Disappointment
Since then Éder, however, has somewhat struggled with his career. In 31 games last season Éder managed just six goals and five assists. Lille in the meantime had a somewhat disappointing season finishing 11th in the league and missing out on reaching European football.
Furthermore, Éder was no longer called up to represent Portugal. His last competitive national team game dates back to November 10 2016 when he played ten minutes against the Faroe Islands. He was then called up against Latvia and Hungary, but did not play. He was then given 45 minutes in a friendly to Sweden in March. Fernando Santos was, however, not impressed and left him out of the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup squad.
There was always a bit of a love hate relationship between Portugal and Éder. With just four goals in 33 games Éder has never been a prolific force for Portugal’s national team. Futhermore, the 188cm tall striker is a powerful player, who likes to use his body up front. He is therefore more of a target man rather than the more dynamic strikers of previous generations in Portugal’s national team.
Players like Pauleta, Nuno Gomes and Domingos were fan favourites. Cristiano Ronaldo’s new role in the centre of the pitch has also meant that there has been less room for Éder. His lack of scoring in the national team has not made him many fans among Portugal’s supporters and while he had some credit with Fernando Santos for scoring the Euro 2016 game winning goal that credit was soon used up when he stopped scoring in Lille.
Éder – From Moscow to Portugal’s World Cup Squad?
A new challenge was therefore needed preferably at a club where he could also play in European competition. Lokomotiv Moscow in the meantime were looking for another capable centre forward, who could be used in Yuri Semin’s 3-5-2 formation. The 70-year-old Russian coach has somewhat revolutionized Lokomotiv in recent months. The club are currently second in the Russian Football Premier League and aside from Zenit Saint Petersburg, who are just one point ahead of them in the standings, have made some clever deals since Erik Stoffelshaus became the new sporting director.
Stoffelshaus quickly identified the likes of Maciej Rybus, Solomon Kvirkvelia, Jefferson Farfan and now Éder as the sort of players the club needed to re-establish themselves among Russia’s top clubs. Stoffelshaus was also instrumental in hanging on to Anton Miranchuk.
The 21-year-old attacking midfielder, who can play as a false nine, will now be key to get the best out of Éder. The powerful Portuguese striker needs more dynamic players around him in order to be fully effective as a target man. His presence will also allow smaller dynamic players to find space in which to create scoring chances.
Playing in the 3-5-2 with a forward like Miranchuk could therefore be the perfect move to revitalize his career. With Lokomotiv Moscow involved in the Europa League and early signs suggesting a strong domestic career Éder’s move to Russia may have opened the doors for him to make the Portuguese squad for next summer’s tournament that will take place in his new home.
Manuel Veth is a freelance journalist and social media junior editor at Bundesliga.com. He is also a holder of a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which will be available in print soon. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada. Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.