Sometimes you have to take a step back to take a step forward again. In football, that can be the case more often than not and whilst some daren’t take the risk or are comfortable where they are, those that do tend to be rewarded. That looks like it’ll be the case for Carlos Eduardo who is certainly finding his groove with Claude Puel’s side after stumbling with Portuguese giants FC Porto.
Carlos Eduardo de Oliveira Alves didn’t make much of a mark in his home country. He played for Desportivo Brasil and went on loan to Fluminense and Gremio Prudente making a few appearances before transferring to second-division Portuguese side Estoril in 2011, owned by the same company as Desportivo.
He played a part in the team’s promotion to the Primeira Liga that year but would be an integral part to the squad in the 2012-13 season. He did not get a look in until injuries paved the way for a starting spot and he was excellent, an attacking playmaker that could spot a pass and hit one hell of a deadball. His quality helped Estoril surprise everyone by finishing fifth in their first season back in the top flight and that earned him a €1million move to Porto in the summer of 2013.
It was a big move, Carlos Eduardo was made to start with the reserves but when he finally got his opportunity with the first team, he took it with aplomb. Some great performances had some fans likening him to Deco, although the Brazilian might have been preferred to be compared to his hero, Juan Roman Riquelme.
The atmosphere changed quickly, however, with results not going their way, the team’s style not quite suiting Carlos Eduardo and his inconsistency causing unrest with the fans, he became a little ostracised as the team finished third. A new manager was to overhaul the squad and he decided to take his leave, managing to go on loan to Nice just before the window shut.
Puel had been following the 25-year-old since his Estoril days and Eduardo himself felt that the French side would be the perfect club for him to rediscover himself as a footballer. He started a little quietly, a good performance against Monaco where he scored the winner endeared him to the fans but it would be his exploits last weekend that might have lit the blue touch paper.
The 25th of October 2014 will be a date that Carlos Eduardo remembers for the rest of his life, it was not just his coming out party in French football but a moment in history that not many others will repeat. The Brazilian managed to score five goals away at Guingamp, a hat-trick in the first half in a true tour-de-force that showed exactly why a club like Porto were interested in the first place.
He seemed hungry from the first moment, he scored a sublime free-kick and that seemed to just give him a kick-start that he needed. His second optimised his performance, he started the move by playing the ball forward, even as the attack slowed down he made his way into the box and begged for the ball back at his feet before neatly placing the ball past a hapless Guingamp defence.
His third again displayed his desire, he arrives late into the box but is clearly waving his arms about wanting another chance and he manages to stretch his leg out to nudge the ball home. His fourth was really a mistake from the goalkeeper and his fifth was gifted to him but at the same time, Carlos Eduardo was there in the right place at the right time to finish off Nice’s attacks with deadly precison, his fifth was expertly placed.
Not since 1983 has a player scored five in a French Ligue 1 game, where oddly three did it in a season, and he got the first ever 10 rating from L’Equipe for a Ligue 1 match. It showed that he could be more than a clever playmaker that has an eye for a pass, he knew exactly where the goal is and where he needed to be on the pitch to get that goal.
So far in his career Carlos Eduardo has shown flashes of real brilliance that have had people stand up and take notice but he needs to add consistency if he ever wants to make it at the top level. He has got a great footballing brain, he is willing to work and when his confidence is high, he is incredibly dangerous to play against at any level. If he carries on like this, it’s unlikely he will stay with Nice but it’s certain that he’ll want to leave a big imprint of just how good he can be whilst he’s with them.
At 25, it’s put up or shut up time for the Brazilian. He does not have the time to wait and grow, he should be close to peaking for a modern footballer and he’s shown signs that it is beginning to happen. He might never quite hit the heights of Riquelme, but with some guidance he could return to the form that won him so much praise just a few years ago.