After a brilliant World Cup it seemed as if this would be Joel Campbell breakthrough year at Arsenal, but since the start of the season Campbell has barely made an appearance.
In the Summer Joel Campbell shone in Costa Rican colours. He scored one, assisted another and successfully converted a penalty in a shootout win against Greece leaving Brazil on a high. His form continued as he played in the Emirates Cup, scoring a beautiful volley in the 5-1 demolition of Benfica. “There’s no reason to let him go” Wenger said after the performance, “I want to keep him.” But since then things have gone downhill, he played 17 minutes as a substitute against Everton and 71 minutes against Southampton in the League Cup, failing to make any sort of impact. So what does Wenger do with him now?
On 19 August 2011, Arsenal confirmed that they had signed Campbell, but it was revealed eight days later that he had failed to obtain a work permit to enable him to play in England. Campbell finally received that permit in July 2013. Campbell has been on loan three time for the club to Lorient, where he made 25 appearances and scored three goals. The following season he was lent to Real Betis in Spain where he had even less of an impact, playing 28 times and only scoring twice. Last season on loan to Olympiacos he made headlines. Impressive performances were now a regular feauture and that was shown on the European stage as Campbell helped dismantle Manchester United in a 2-0 win, scoring the second. However, Joel Campbell had never made a first team appearance up until this season.
The question that still troubles Wenger is where to play him. The purchase of Danny Welbeck shows that Wenger does not see Campbell as an out and out striker, however, it was here certainly where he caused the damage for Costa Rica at the World Cup. On the wing is perhaps Campbell’s preferred position. However, the purchase of Alexis Sanchez makes this unlikely. Arsenal also have Theo Walcott returning from injury. Santi Cazorla and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are both able to play on the wings and both will be above Campbell in the pecking order. So does Wenger loan him? Surely another loan would spell the end of Joel Campbell’s Arsenal career, a permanent move would be a better option, allowing Campbell to build on his career instead of wasting his talent sitting on the bench.
It would not be the first time a talented youngster has failed to break into the first team. Examples such as Carlos Vela and Henri Lansbury show that not all youngsters are good enough for the first team. The most recent example of Thomas Eisfeld shows how being in the right team at the wrong time can affect your career as he was sold to Fulham in the summer.
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