Joel Campbell has been an Arsenal player since he signed from Costa Rican club Deportivo Saprissa back in 2011, however has made very limited appearances due to work permit issues that have seen him loaned out to clubs in each of the three previous seasons in order for him to gain crucial experience and game time. He joined Lorient in 2011, Real Betis in 2012 and spent last season at Olympiakos where he started to make a name for himself with some impressive performances in the Champions League for the Greek Champions. Campbell came to prominence in the first leg of the last 16 where he scored a fantastic goal against Manchester United which saw Olympiakos take a 2-0 lead to Old Trafford.
Campbell is a very versatile attacker who can play centre forward, on either side of a front three or just behind in the infamous “No.10” role. The 22 year old has many attributes needed to succeed at the top level, he is quick, skillful, creative and has a good eye for goal as he showed in his only competitive start for Arsenal which saw him score in the Emirates cup annihilation of Benfica in a 5-1 win. He introduced himself to the Arsenal faithful with a sumptuous volley from 20 yards out which left the Benfica Keeper Artur rooted.
Campbell had a fantastic showing at the summer’s World Cup with Costa Rica being one of many surprise packages including the emergence of Chile, Columbia and Mexico, Campbell scored Costa Rica’s first goal in a World Cup which saw them run out eventual 3-1 victors, in that game Campbell showcased everything he has to offer, pace, creativity and goals. Going into every World Cup there are exciting young prospects that emerge and Campbell definitely falls into that category.
Arsene Wenger has been quick to suggest that Campbell is very much a part of his plans this season at the Emirates however, there have been many rumours that the striker had been hoping for a move as he has struggled to get game time, he has only started once in the Emirates Cup and been used sparingly as a substitute. It was reported that he was offered by Arsenal as a makeweight in a deal to bring in Sporting Lisbon holding midfielder William Carvalho which was rejected by the Portugese club. If accepted this would have seen Campbell go on loan to the Portuguese side. Not much has come from Campbell’s corner regarding this but it has been reported that the player has been left frustrated at not being able to leave on loan as he wants first team Football, something he does not believe will happen at the Emirates this campaign. Arsenal have refused to clarify whether there was any serious interest in Carvalho so we will have to see what fallout comes from this or maybe some interest will be shown come January.
So where does this leave Campbell? the boy undoubtedly has real talent and with the injury to Olivier Giroud now would be the time to impress, he would have been upset at the arrival of England International Danny Welbeck but he needs to show Wenger what he can do. He can not go anywhere until January at the earliest so he needs to get his head down and work hard for the team. In the build up to deadline day Wenger was quizzed constantly about bring another Striker on board, he always refuted the need for additions naming Campbell among the candidates to deputise for Giroud and the apparent refusal of a loan move just goes to show Wenger wants him around the first team, this coming from a manager who has never been shy in allowing players to leave on loan or otherwise.
Giroud is expected to be on the sidelines until at least the Christmas period and it would be astonishing if Campbell has not played any part in proceedings leading up til then, I would expect him to feature heavily in the league Cup which has always been a good grounding for Arsenal in respect of introducing younger players and being a showcase for what a player can do. There will also be the FA Cup at the tail end of the year and the new year. Campbell has competition if he is to nail down a first team place from the returning Lukas Podolski who was convinced to stay at least another year, Alexis Sanchez, Yaya Sanogo and new arrival Danny Welbeck. Now as an integral period for Campbell who can go one of two ways, he can either sulk and wait it out until January or he can do what I hope he does and fights for his place.