Some footballing careers are destined not to meet the excitement and anticipation of an obvious talent despite a promising debut. The reasons can be different and varied. Reyes is a clearly talented player who couldn`t settle in the UK. His failure to cope with life here coupled with the disappointment of the unrequited love he lavished on Real Madrid seemed to push his career into the doldrums. His performances for Atletico Madrid this season have shown that he is still a very talented player though and maybe he`ll still earn the plaudits his talents justify.
Other players, equally talented, just become dogged with misfortune. One such career under threat at Arsenal is that of Eduardo da Silva. When he joined in 2007 he was in many ways a typical Wenger signing. A player with a remarkable record in Croatia both at club and international level that the rest of football had largely overlooked. In just 22 starts he had answered questions as to whether he could take that ability displayed in the less demanding Croatian league into the PL with 12 goals and 9 assists before his debut season was cruelly cut short by another player without a bad bone in his body. The clinical nature of his goal scoring plus the intelligence he displayed in creating goals and goal attempts for others marked him out as a player that couldn`t fail to succeed.
Players do suffer serious injury of course and do recover but momentum can be lost and in Eduardo`s case the wave he was riding before his injury just wasn`t there when he returned late last season. Despite that he managed 3 goals in 2 starts with his first goal appropriately celebrated with fitness coach Tony Colbert.
This season should have been the season to kick on then, to show that talent that had excited so promisingly. But a disjointed season interrupted by comparatively minor injuries to himself, but equally importantly injuries to other squad players that meant the options left open didn`t always allow the team the balance to use Eduardo, haven`t given him the opportunities he needed to build up a consistent enough run to establish the consistent form he needs. Frustrating as it is that hasn`t prevented him collecting 6 goals and 7 assists in the 17 starts he has had with an ‘attempts created` record also worthy of note.
At the moment it is unclear where Eduardo fits into the squad but while Wenger has insisted he is very much part of his plans for next season, and that he looks much sharper in training, he also acknowledges that Eduardo is at the stage of his career where he needs to play regularly. Though it`s only 6 months since he extended his contract it is important that the player feels wanted and needed and Wenger intends to talk to the player this summer to ensure that he is confident of getting what he wants out of his time here.
“In the last month he looked sharp to me in training,’ Arsene told Arsnal.com. “He had a period where he was in and out, a little niggling injury.
“It was the first full season after his injury. He was a bit disturbed but I think next season should be better for him.”
Eduardo is possibly one of the most astute and intelligent players to wear an Arsenal shirt. He has also proved to be a remarkably strong and resilient character. I hope that mental fortitude convinces him that he can still prosper here. At least to see what the effect any other squad changes this summer might make on his participation. It`s not hard to see that he could perhaps benefit playing behind someone like Chamakh for example more profitably than the combinations he has played with this season.
In football, as much as and maybe more than some other spheres of life, time and tide will wait for no man. Football is a short career at the very top and it`s sad that a player, with just a little more fortune, could have had a very different last 2 years plus at something near his peak than the gods have conspired to allow him to enjoy until now. Maybe those same gods still owe him one.
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