This season Sampdoria’s Éder has been the Serie A’s revelation and is consistently scoring the goals. Serie A Scouted assessed if he can keep it up.
Like in every season, there are a few things that leave you wondering, “how the hell is this happening,” and most of the time you don’t bother wasting your time examining it. I, on the other hand, enjoy wasting my time on such things and decided to look at the myth that is Sampdoria’s Éder Citadin Martins this season. The Italo-Brazilian is currently playing the best football of his career and has emerged as a regular for Antonio Conte’s Italy. Yes, Éder’s a regular on a national team that once boasted the likes of Roberto Baggio, Luigi Riva, Giuseppe Meazza and
Amauri up front. Well, maybe not him but you get the point. After any player has a similar season to the one Éder is having now, many teams queue up for their signature in the summer and it typically ends up in one of two ways: Either the player adapts to life nicely at the bigger club or suffers from the big fish in a small pond syndrome and flops. Looking at the forward’s numbers from his past six seasons, I get the feeling he will struggle sustaining his incredible numbers from this season.
2010-2011/ 2011-2012: Éder’s first two seasons in Serie A (Brescia/Cesena)
The forward made his Serie A debut five years ago as Brescia won promotion to Italy’s top flight. That season Éder would make 27 appearances scoring six goals. Throughout the season, the Sampdoria man was deployed mostly on the wing and took 62 shots leaving him with a conversion rate of about 9.68%. Hardly impressive. Given the fact that he was playing with a newly-promoted side in his first ever season in a major league, his poor conversion rate and average production is somewhat understandable. In the following season another newly-promoted side in the form of Cesena, would come knocking on the door for the player.
With the Seahorses, Éder’s progression would take a significant step back. During his injury-ridden stint with Cesena, the forward made fourteen appearances and scored two goals and registered one assist. Both his goals came from playing in a central role in attack while his time on the wing was fruitless. In his limited playing time, Éder averaged 2.1 shots per game (29 shots on the season) which brought his conversion rate down to a measly 6.9%. Despite the player’s injury problems, he did show flashes of brilliance due to his speed and ability to beat his man. As a result, Sampdoria decided to take a punt on him and have not looked back since.
2012-2013/2013-2014: Éder’s consolidation in the top flight
After bouncing around a couple of bottom half teams in the league, Éder finally got his chance to prove himself at a mid-table team. In his debut season with Sampdoria, the Italo-Brazilian enjoyed a successful spell when playing centrally (secondary striker or striker) scoring six of his seven goals when deployed through the middle. In addition to this, his conversion rate went up to 10.45% (7 goals on 67 shots) and he added a new facet to his game: Playmaking. In his twenty four appearances, the Italan international registered four assists, his highest ever total and finally began to make more of his time on the ball.
In the following season, Éder had a career year and improved in almost every category relevant to a creative forward like him. His goal total went up to 12 while he registered his best ever conversion rate at 14.81%. (12 goals from 81 shots) The forward also became a better creator as his totals for key passes (1.2) and successful dribbles per game (1.5) increased from the previous seasons. Once again, Éder’s success mostly came from when he played centrally (9 goals in 19 appearances) while his spells on the wing (3 goals in 11 appearances) were rather wasteful.
2014-2015/2015-2016: Éder’s road to becoming Italy’s best option up front
Following his breakout season, the forward regressed slightly in almost every respect giving you a better idea of what to realistically expect from him. In his twenty-eight appearances, Éder scored nine goals from 78 shots (11.54% conversion rate) and added four assists. His key passes (1.1) and successful dribbles (1.2) totals would go down in comparison to the previous season. That said, one thing would remain the same from all the previous seasons: Éder played his best football when deployed centrally. In his twenty appearances on the left wing, the Sampdoria man scored four goals while he was able to find the back of the net five times in only eight appearances when playing down the middle.
Now, to the good stuff. This season Éder is well on his way to smash his career totals in every category even if the current sample size is rather small. In the first eleven games of this season, the former Cesena man has already scored nine goals putting him in the lead for the capocannoniere title. More importantly, Éder has scored nine goals from 37 shots leaving him with a conversion rate of 24.32%, nearly a 10% spike from his previous best. And, like in the previous seasons, a majority of his goals (6 goals in 7 appearances) have come when he’s played at centre forward or at secondary striker. Notice a trend yet?
So, back to the original question: Is Éder the real deal or will he flop when he makes his move to a bigger team?
Judging by his numbers over his career and the way he’s played this season, it’s safe to say that 2015-2016 Éder is an anomaly. In his six seasons in Serie A, his conversion rate has hovered in and around the 10-15% mark making his current rate of 24.32% a clear outlier.
Will he be able to sustain these numbers beyond this season? I don’t think so. Can Italy win a major tournament with him leading the line? Probably not. Can he be an asset to a bigger team? Sure. You can’t deny that Éder has put up decent numbers when playing in the middle of a front three. Should a team come in for him at the end of this season, and you know someone will (looking at you Inter), he should come with a buyer beware tag that says, “Play me up the middle and don’t expect me to score 25% of my chances anymore.” Because, that’s the real Éder. A striker with an average conversion rate and not the guy you want to lead a
n elite national team.