Eder arrival shows Swans boss Monk not put off by Oliveira experience
Ask most Swansea City fans, and they’ll nod when asked if they considered winter window loan signing Nelson Oliveira to be a flop.
The boots of Michu and Wilfried Bony are big ones to fill, but head coach Garry Monk has not been deterred in scouring Portuguese football for talent by the Benfica forward’s lukewarm loan spell at the Liberty Stadium.
Coral make the Swans 11/8 chances to repeat their top 10 finish from 2014/15 this coming campaign, but at present the big question is who will finish off openings made by a plethora of wide options?
Braga and Portugal poacher Eder, born in Guinea-Bissau, has joined the south Wales side on a three-year deal for a reported £5m. At 27, he should be entering his prime. If punters and Swansea supporters look at his international scoring record, however, they are right to be sceptical.
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One in 18 caps to date is damning evidence Eder is not in the same bracket as Portugal’s all-time scoring greats Rui Costa, Eusebio, Luis Figo, Nuno Gomes, Cristiano Ronaldo, Pauleta and Simao Sabrosa. He doesn’t need to be as good as these stellar names to be successful at Swansea, though.
Unlike Figo and Ronaldo, Eder is not at the Bernabeu, nor the Parc des Princes as Pauleta was in his pomp. He hasn’t hailed from one of Portugal’s ‘big three’ teams Benfica, Porto or Sporting Lisbon, so should never have to live up to that billing.
Braga, where Eder departs, in many ways are the Swansea of the Primeira Liga, squeezing the absolute maximum from the resources at their disposal, but never capable of breaking the sustained domestic dominance of the towering triple titans above.
This point is perfectly illustrated by recent events over the last five years at Braga both before and during Eder’s time on their books. In 2009/10, they finished as domestic runners-up behind Benfica and the following season were losing Europa League finalists to Porto.
Not even Eder’s four goals during their cup run this term could help Braga to topple the third of the big three, as Sporting Lisbon scooped Taca de Portugal glory in May. It should be noted in the penalty shoot-out he missed, having scored the opener in a 2-2 draw.
So this 6ft 3in centre forward, who often skippered Braga this past season, may not have the trophies or strike rate of his lauded compatriots, but Eder is a have-a-go hero that Swans supporters should warm to.
He’s got more in common with his Liberty predecessors that led the line so successfully. Michu came from Rayo Vallecano, a little known Spanish capital club that lacked the profile of the Bernabeu’s intense spotlight, Atletico Madrid or even poor relations Getafe.
Bony, meanwhile, made his name at Dutch Eredivisie outfit Vitesse Arnhem; best known in recent years for being a feeder club for Chelsea to loan fringe players to. He was sold to Manchester City in January because ever player has his price.
What we’re seeing from Monk during and following his first full season in charge of Swansea is a clear preference for a target man striker type to complete chances created by fellow new arrival Andre Ayew, Jefferson Montero and longer-serving squad members like Wayne Routledge and Nathan Dyer.
Eder will thus be credible competition for similar centre forward Bafetimbi Gomis. Can he help the Swans break into the top six? Odds of 16/1 say they shall.