By Richard Clarke

Eduardo belongs at Arsenal according to Croatian manager Slaven Bilic.

The former West Ham centre back made a special trip to Salzburg last week to see his striker play in a pre-season friendly. Afterwards he spoke in glowing terms about the 24-year-old bought by Arsène Wenger in the wake of Thierry Henry's departure to Barcelona.

"He is one of them," said Bilic watching Eduardo about to board the Arsenal bus with his team-mates after the game. "He looks straight away like he belongs there. "Okay, it is pre-season still, his legs are a bit heavy and he looked as if he lacked freshness in the game.

"But the main point is that we never doubt that he belongs there. I'm sure that [Arsenal] are going to be delighted with him. A wonderful player, a wonderful man. The guy is unbelievable.

"Last year he scored 54 goals in all competitions for Dinamo Zagreb and for the national team," Bilic went on. "54 goals!"

"I know some people think he is just a goalscorer and he is a goalscorer but not like someone like [Filippo] Inzaghi. His game doesn't depend on scoring goals.

"He is not the [type of striker] who is going to stay in the box. OK, he can do that. If you tell him stay in the box, he will stay in the box. But it would be criminal to use a player of such quality only in the box. He can be a lone striker, he can play off the striker. He is individual but first of all he is a team player."

Off the pitch, the Brazilian-born front man has fitted in well before and, Bilic argues, his move to Emirates Stadium will benefit the whole of football in his country

"He came to Croatia when he was 16," said the ex-Everton man. "And all the people in Croatia treat him as a 100 per cent Croatian. Remember he was a captain of Dinamo Zagreb. You cannot be captain of such a big club if you are not considered Croatian.

"You can't not love him. He is an unbelievable guy. It's such a great thing for the Croatian League, for Eduardo and the national team and everybody in Croatia. Our players don't go to Arsenal every day and I think he is going to open the space for a few others."

Copyright 2017 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to as the source
Richard Clarke 2 Aug 2007