Edu says he was impressed by Mikel Arteta from the moment he picked up the phone to the Spaniard, who today was confirmed as Arsenal’s new head coach.
The Brazilian, a fellow ex-Gunner, led the hunt for Unai Emery’s successor and it sounds as though the duo went on to hit it off in person.
Asked what excites him most about the appointment of Arsenal’s 20th permanent leader, Edu explained: “Almost everything, to be honest.
“We went to talk to the candidates and to understand how they feel, and how they think about the squad and the club as well.
“My first conversation with Mikel by phone was fantastic. To be honest, we didn’t talk about the squad, we talked about what I really believe is the basis, the organisation.
“We talked about human beings, we talked about discipline, that was our first conversation. Then when we met after that, in a very important meeting, he started to show us his knowledge about football, his ideas.
“His passion as well, which was brilliant. His connection with the club as well was important for ourselves. So many, many things made us feel very, very comfortable with that decision.”
Arsenal’s hunt for a new head coach saw them interview all manner of candidates from across the football spectrum. While an impressive CV got many of them a foot in the door, Edu said the connection with Mikel was immediate.
He explained: “What is nice as well is when you see all the candidates, when we started the process, all of them were very good coaches and very good people and they have a very good experience in football but we have been talking about… it’s a feeling.
“Because when you’re in the meeting, they of course all have very good experience, and then let’s see because maybe we are going to say, ‘Oh, we have a connection’ and that started from the beginning with Mikel.”
Head of football, Raul Sanllehi, also played an important role in the recruitment process and was witness to Edu’s first meeting with Arteta.
“I would like to mention, because this is very relevant for us, the connection between the head coach and our technical director is crucial for our model,” said the gruff-voiced executive.
“And that was one of the things that you can only know once you have the meeting in person. I was fortunate enough to witness that moment and I can assure you that the connection is absolutely there, very strong. They view things in the very same way and, of course, there are going to be discrepancies along the way, but that’s healthy. The good thing is that the mutual respect, it’s clear when you see them interacting together.
He added: “From the beginning of the conversations to the end of the conversations, he kept exposing his approach to Arsenal, what he wanted to do, his vision on how to translate to the field on what he wanted to do in practice, and how he wanted to interact with everybody at the club.
“How much he understood about the teamwork, what we are about here, the people who are involved in the football decisions, but especially let’s go to the real essence: what is going to happen on the training field and ultimately at the Emirates and every game that we play.
“Everything that he said, everything he planned, his views that he showed us, were fantastic, they were really spot on, so the more we got to meet him, the more we got to talk to him, the stronger we were convinced.
“We were convinced initially, but now it is certainty almost that we have. You never know about the future, but we certainly know we have the person that ticks all the boxes to give him that responsibility for taking us where we want to be.”
You can watch the full interview with Raul and Edu on Arsenal.com.