When you think of Joel Campbell, you’ll remember his brilliant performances this summer which were apart of the Cinderella story of Costa Rica’s spirited dash to the quarterfinals in Brazil. Your mind may also wander back to his wonder-goal against Manchester United in last season’s Champions League knockout stages – but if you’re Arsene Wenger, that may not be enough.
Despite Campbell’s steady and impressive progression the last two seasons at Real Betis and Olympiakos, it seems apparent that Wenger feels the Costa Rican firecracker is still not ready to make significant contributions to the Arsenal first team. So many Gooners, including myself, are now left asking why.
It’s not that a loan won’t do him any amount of good; he’s still just 22-years old and has plenty to his game that he can refine. His power, pace and finishing ability are at the forefront of his game, but he’s still quite raw when it comes to his over-all ability. What’s more, is that the rumored interest in a loan moan comes by way of Premier League clubs, which would be ideal if Wenger does fully intent to loan him. After spells in France, Spain and Greece, it’s time that Campbell acclimatize himself to the Premier League, and if he’s to be shipped off, what better way than to feature for the likes of Southampton, Newcastle or Everton?
What baffles Arsenal supporters however, is the notion that Joel Campbell is still in need of time on loan away from the club, but Yaya Sanogo somehow does not.
Those of you who were happy that Arsenal purchased Sanogo from Auxerre because he “ends up being brilliant in Football Manager” are no doubt rather disappointed currently. if Joel Campbell is still very much a raw talent, then you certainly have to create a new term to describe the lack of ability that Yaya Sanogo brings to the table. Sure he can hold the ball up well, but if a striker of his size could not, he’d have no hope at all. He has not yet matured into his size, is clumsy when not trying to hold up play, lacks any sort of conviction in his shooting ability and yet somehow, Wenger feels Sanogo should remain with the first team.
While it may be slightly conceivable that Sanogo remains at the club given that Olivier Giroud is the only true option at striker, that argument can be quickly shot down by the facts that Alexis Sanchez and Lukas Podolski have featured striker plenty of times in their careers, and, so has Campbell.
With Sanchez now at the club, Santi Cazorla reiterating his desire to remain at the Emirates and Lukas Podolski also on the books, the Gunners have plenty of left-sided options to choose from; would it then not b conceivable to suggest that Campbell’s place in the Arsenal team would actually be as Giroud’s back-up, rather than fourth in the queue for left-sided duty?
As highlighted before, Campbell’s pace, strength, finishing ability and direct style would give Wenger a different option at striker than what Giroud brings to the table. While the hatred toward the French striker seems to be subsiding in some corners of the Arsenal world, with many supporters now seeing that he is rather effective, it is always good to have a different option available to you.
When you play a side like Stoke, who will put numbers in defense and sit compact at the back, the type of striker Giroud is will not trouble them. However, a player like Campbell, would give them something different to think about – a ball over the top or a surgical pass from Ozil, or just Campbell’s pace would force them to either give away far too many set pieces, or focus on not being burned by his speed that it would grant Arsenal some extra space to operate in the final third.
My confusion at the state of affairs at Arsenal when it comes to the striker situation is not an irrational one. Wenger says the club does not need a striker, but only has two true strikers on the books, and one of which is no where near ready for first-team duty. Despite having Joel Campbell a a viable option for the role, he’d seemingly rather loan him out yet again.
If it’s one thing I have learned in my over twenty years of loving the club, it’s that sometime, you just cannot understand the inner-clockwork of Wenger. All in all, if Campbell does go out on loan, I think he’ll be a hit where ever he does go, though I’d prefer he finally be given his chance in an Arsenal shirt this season.