The era of Edu Gaspar is firmly underway at Arsenal. After being appointed as technical director just over a year ago, the Brazilian’s influence is becoming very clear.
Following the signings of Gabriel Martinelli and David Luiz last year, Willian has been added this summer with Gabriel Magalhaes rumoured to be next through the door. Clearly Edu has one vision – bring the Samba to the Arsenal.
Whilst the current side may be awash with Brazilian talent this hasn’t traditionally been the case. But with Edu’s influence and Arsenal now only having scouts in South America, expect the carnival spirit to continue at the Emirates.
Let’s take a look at Arsenal’s previous Brazilians – ranked from worst to best.
Even the most avid Arsenal fans probably don’t remember this one. Signed from Sao Paulo in 2001, the left back only played twice for Arsenal over the course of three years. Both appearances came in domestic cup competitions before an ACL injury brought an end to his Arsenal career.
After a disappointing spell at Millwall, he returned to Brazil where his fortunes turned around and he established himself as one of the league’s best full backs, winning two caps for his country in the process.
Santos is fortunate that Juan only made two appearances for the Gunners otherwise he would surely be bottom of this list.
Signed during the deadline day pandemonium following Arsenal’s 8-2 demolition at the hands of Manchester United, Santos has a dreadful spell at the Emirates.
Ostensibly a left back, the Brazilian didn’t seem to care for the defensive side of the game. After picking the number 11 shirt he would constantly try to fly up the wing before inevitably being dispossessed. He’d then make a half-hearted attempt to get back into position leaving Arsenal exposed time and time again.
His infamous half-time shirt swap with former Gunner Robin van Persie brought the full fury from Arsenal fans – bizarre.
There were plenty of comparisons between the young Brazilian and Cesc Fabregas when Denilson signed in 2006. Unfortunately for the former Sao Paulo man, those comparisons stopped pretty quickly. As Cesc would enjoy a dazzling career, Denilson would struggle.
He did however play over 100 times for Arsenal before being shipped back to Brazil.
After narrowly missing out on Baptista a year before as ‘The Beast’ decided to move to Real Madrid, Arsene Wenger would finally get his man in a loan swap deal that saw Jose Antonio Reyes head to the Bernabeu.
Baptista struggled for consistency in England and it was probably for the best that Wenger hadn’t signed him permanently the year before.
A four-goal haul against Liverpool and a brace at White Hart Lane see Baptista narrowly pip Denilson to seventh place.
Arguably one of the most enigmatic players to set foot in the Premier League. Luiz continues to frustrate at the Emirates.
At his best, the Brazilian is utterly unplayable yet suffers from moments of self-destruction that nominally end up in Arsenal defeat.
Despite significant improvements under Mikel Arteta, a Luiz disaster-class never seems too far away.
Ok, so technically Eduardo is actually Croatian as he chose to represent them internationally, but he was born and raised in Brazil so gets a place on this list.
After a devastating goal record at Dinamo Zagreb, Arsenal fans were seriously excited by Eduardo’s arrival. Mid-way through his debut season, Eduardo was beginning to seriously impress – every Arsenal fan knows what happened next.
A horrific leg-break would bring a dramatic end to the forward’s season. He never really recovered and was sold to Shakhtar Donetsk in 2010.
After a scintillating start to his Arsenal career, there’s a very realistic chance Martinelli will find himself far higher up on this list within a few years.
Plucked from, then, Serie D side Ituano, it was believed the young forward would join Arsenal’s Under-23 side before hopefully making the step up. Clearly already too good for youth team football Martinelli became a fixture in cup competitions, before forcing his way into the league side.
With ten goals in his debut season, the Brazilian is now one of the Premier League’s hottest prospects.
Undoubtedly the best out of the three Brazilian left backs to play for Arsenal.
The Brazilian signed in 1999 and quickly established himself as both a fan favourite and one of the league’s best in his position. Somewhat bizarrely then, he was flogged to Celta Vigo just months after featuring in the PFA Team of the Season.
He would later play for Barcelona and Manchester City before making the switch to management with Lyon.
Now one of the most important figures at the Emirates, following Raul Sanllehi’s departure, it shouldn’t be forgotten that Edu was a brilliant player for the club too.
He won two league titles and two FA Cups during his spell with Arsenal and featured 30 times in Arsenal’s invincible season.
Whilst his time as technical director hasn’t got off to the best of starts, his status as one of the Invincibles will undoubtedly gain him some extra time from the fans.
It was never going to be anyone else.
Dubbed the ‘Invisible Wall’ by the Arsenal faithful, the Brazilian is one of the finest midfielders to play for the Gunners. After signing in 2002, Gilberto became a mainstay in a successful Arsenal, forming a devastating partnership with Patrick Vieira. With the France midfielder often marauding forward, Gilberto would sit deep bringing defensive stability to an otherwise attacking side.
Often staying out of the limelight, his importance to the team was arguably most noticeably after his departure in 2008, Arsenal have struggled to ever find a replacement.