“Joel Campbell did it again” was the headline news from the mid-week international’s involving Arsenal players as the 21 year old Costa Rican scored another screamer against Paraguay.
Following up on his goal against Manchester United in the Champions League, Campbell’s stock has risen over the last week or so, getting to a point where Arsenal fans are :
a) wondering why we loaned him out again and;
b) getting excited over what the future holds.
Joel Campbell got his work permit last summer. The decision to loan him out to Olympiakos was more to do with Arsene Wenger hoping to get a potential buyer for him rather than gain further experience.
Campbell had failed to impress. Two fairly limp loan spells at Lorient & Real Betis, alongside a reported poor attitude in Arsenal training and a shocking dive against the USA in 2013 seemed to mark him out as the type of personality we did not need at the club.
In summer 2013, he was certainly surplus to requirements. with Theo Walcott, Santi Cazorla, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Tomas Rosicky and the emerging Serge Gnabry set to battle it out on the wings, it would have been hard for anyone to justify him staying with the club. We were so well set for wide men that Gervinho was sold on and no replacement bought in.
The game time he could have potentially had went to Serge Gnabry. 4 years younger and a lot more talented, with a much better attitude. Joel Campbell would have struggled to get a single minute.
Hindsight makes football a much easier game. We see it with transfers (Why didn’t we sign Yaya Toure? Why did we pick Diaby over him? Why did we drop Higuain for Suarez?), with tactics and throughout the game. But the problem is, unless you a Mystic Meg, you do not know how things are going to turn out. Football is impossible to predict (unless you are predicting an injury for Diaby, or the good form of Rosicky at contract renewal time).
In hindsight, we should have held on to Joel Campbell. With injuries to both Theo Walcott and Oxlade Chamberlain, the team has, at times, lacked pace. Add in the injury to Yaya Sanogo (which was perhaps a bit more predictable), we have lacked a lot upfront. Joel Campbell certainly could have added to the squad this season. But like I said, hindsight and football.
As for the future, I would still be very surprised if he does return to Arsenal. Firstly, we have effectively bombed him out of the club. Loaning him out to Olympiakos, Arsenal also gave them an option to buy, reportedly around £6.5million. This would have made it clear to all and sundry that Arsenal no longer required his services.
So what can arsenal do now? If they want him back, they will have to offer him a new contract. Whilst Olympiakos have an option to buy, Joel Campbell does not have to move if he does not want to. We offer him a larger contract than them, there is a possibility he will then reject Olympiakos and remain with us.
Even if he wants to stay with Arsenal, I would still not be surprised if Arsenal do not want him. A couple of high profile goals is not usually enough to sway Arsene Wenger’s opinion on a player, who tends to look at the longer term picture.
Ahead of Joel Campbell in the squad are still the aforemention players. Theo Walcott, Santi Cazorla, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Tomas Rosicky and Serge Gnabry. With Arsenal likely to add Julian Draxler and a new striker to the squad, Campbell will be pushed further down the pecking order. At best he will be 7th choice winger and 4th choice striker. A situation that no professional football would want to be in. He would still be surplus to requirements.
A player we signed for €1 million who we then sell 3 years later for €8 million, without said player playing a game for us would be a good deal and a significant profit.
It is fairly clear that Joel Campbell is still surplus to requirements. Whilst money is not an issue to Arsenal, I would rather we pocket the £6 million and use that money to re-inforce the defence, where it is likely we will need at least 3 players with Sagna & Vermaelen also set to leave.
Joel Campbell, you have had an excellent couple of weeks, but that does not make you good enough for a place in the Arsenal squad.