Arriving from Schalke 04 on a free transfer at the start of the season, following four fairly unproductive years in Germany, it is fair to say that nobody really knew quite what to expect from new Liaoning signing Edú this season. However, just a month into the new campaign and the former Suwon Bluewings star has already made a deep impression, scoring five goals in his opening five appearances to help Liaoning to an unexpectedly good opening set of results.
The Brazilian has been integral to their success, playing as the central figure in a dynamic attacking unit that also features Zambian James Chamanga and Serbian Milos Trifunovic. With an assist to add to his impressive goal tally, Edú is second only to Guangzhou Evergrande star Elkeson in terms of goal contributions across the league as a whole.
Thanks to his efforts up front, the loss of national team forward Yang Xu to Shandong Luneng days before the start of the season has had minimal impact on Liaoning’s aspirations for the year ahead, with the Northeast Tigers currently unbeaten in 2013. With nine points already in the bag, the Shenyang-based side can start aiming higher than they may have hoped just a few weeks ago.
How, then, is Edú finding life in China? Below is a translation of a lengthy interview from the New Beijing Paper (新京报), in which the Brazilian talks about life in China, his career so far and even Confucianism (briefly!). After a disappointing couple of seasons, it is nice to see Liaoning making positive headlines in the Super League once more.
Why did you come to China?
I have played in Korea, Turkey and Germany—I really like to try new things—and I really liked the environment in Asia when I was in Korea. Also, there are many Brazilians playing here in China and I heard they are happy here, so I was willing to accept this new challenge.
Before you arrived, did you really understand the environment of Chinese football and society?
I didn’t really try to understand Chinese football and society, I just listened to some friends who play here. Everything here is new to me.
Before you came to China, Chinese football had just punished several teams for match-fixing. Does this affect your understanding of football here?
Before coming here, I didn’t really understand all this. As a professional, these are things that I cannot personally change. I need to first make sure I act properly and do not get involved in this type of thing. Since I came to China, I haven’t encountered this type of problem—I am very happy with my life and work.
You have played in Germany, Turkey and Korea. Do you think you are a very adaptable player?
If I have the company of my family, I can play anywhere. I am a very adaptable player and I also really like China. Life in Germany was maybe better, but I want to have new challenges in my career so I came to China.
Is your income higher than it was when you were in Korea?
My wage is actually not that different. Before I came to Liaoning, I was approached by a Korean side and a Chinese side. If the income is similar, I won’t travel the same path again. I prefer to choose a new footballing experience.
How is the Chinese Super League different to the K-League?
I have only played five games in China, so I can’t give an objective analysis of the CSL. The CSL has attracted many well-known players and coaches—it is on an upward trend. It is a thriving league. The K-League and the CSL are on a similar level and we are still in the process of growing.
You have scored five goals in five games. Do you think it is easy to score in the CSL?
Edú: I can’t say that. As any striker knows, scoring goals is not just dependent on your individual play. Because I have scored many goals, I can’t say it’s just because I have played well. It’s because the team has done well. If a striker has no support, how can he score goals?
How many goals would you like to score this season? Do you have a target?
I won’t set a concrete figure for myself, but I will try my best in every game and strive to score more goals. As a striker, it’s my job to score goals and I really like the feeling of scoring.
After this short time together, how do you rate this Liaoning side?
This team is really not bad, there are some excellent players. In our first two games we players really well, but there are some players who lack killer instinct. Sometimes they are a bit relaxed and think that a draw is ok. This [attitude] is not good and we must fight to win every game. As long as we keep that winning mentality, then it’s definitely a very strong side.
This is the influence of Confucianism. Maybe Chinese people lack this killer instinct…
I don’t really understand Confucianism. I just came to the team and I have just one thought, I want to win. I want to win every game. Even when playing Guangzhou Evergrande, you cannot think “they are too strong, we cannot beat them”. You cannot think like this. If we lose this type of mentality, the team can move up a level and become a very strong side.
There are many Brazilians in China, who do you know well?
I played with Qingdao’s Gustavo for many years, so I know him quite well. I also know Davi at Guangzhou R&F.
Are you close with Muriqui? He said in a recent interview that he would like to get Chinese nationality…
I know of Muriqui, but I haven’t met him. I know he has been in China for a few years, he is very familiar with it here and he is an outstanding player. He has great ability. If China needs him, and he would like to play for China, then why not?
If you were asked to play for China, would you?
At 32 years old, maybe I’m a bit too old. Also, I have only been in China a short time and don’t really understand the country. We can only talk about this question in a year’s time. If, after a year, everybody likes me and China needs me, then why not also?
Before coming to China, you had played with both Li Weifeng (Suwon) and Hao Junmin (Schalke). How do you rate these two players?
Li Weifeng and Hao Junmin are both good players, but they are two very different players. Li Weifeng is a very strong defender, who can be a leader for any team, at any time. Hao Junmin is a very skilled player, with a great shot. They are both excellent players.
Drogba and Anelka, this type of big name player, played in China. However, because the club didn’t pay them on time, they left. Sometimes clubs in China will not pay their staff on time, are you concerned?
Drogba and Anelka’s wages were too high. For one club to pay these two players at the same time, it will be difficult. But, I don’t know what their reason was for leaving. I don’t need to worry about this type of thing, my wage is not as high as theirs!