Flashback to the World Cup this past summer – the 14th June to be exact. Uruguay has just been defeated 3-1 by Costa Rica with Joel Campbell providing a man of the match performance with a goal and an assist for his side. Fast-forward to today and the exact same player has only played 16 minutes of Premier League football for Arsenal this season. The 22-year-old only played four minutes in the Community Shield final against Manchester City as well. He was included in the squad against Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League, but for the last three league games Campbell hasn’t even been on the Gunners’ bench. This begs the question, what on earth is going on?
The Costa Rican showed a lot of promise at the World Cup this past summer which leaves me asking why Campbell isn’t been given the playing time to improve? He nearly moved to Benfica on transfer deadline day but the transfer was blocked by Arsenal’s manager Arsene Wenger at the last minute. Joaquim Batica, Campbell’s agent, blasted Wenger for this: “Wenger says he did not want to sell him. But if he is not in his plans, then why not allow him to leave?”
Some say it’s all down to Wenger not having the belief in him to play at the top level. If he had been included in the Arsenal squad in their game against Aston Villa, he could have been given the playing time to prove himself whilst the team was comfortably winning 3-0, but that didn’t happen.
Others say the fact Wenger did not allow Campbell to leave shows how much he believes the Costa Rican could be a top player in the future. I’m not saying Campbell should start for Arsenal, but with the arrival of Danny Welbeck for £16m over the summer, it raises further questions about Campbell’s future at the club. He is probably now behind the Englishman, French youngster Yaya Sanogo and the injured Oliver Giroud in the pecking order of strikers at the club.
There is still a lot of talent ahead of him. The likes of Alexis Sanchez and Lukas Podolski were on the bench for Arsenal against Villa. Let me reiterate, ON THE BENCH! Podolski, who in my opinion is a better player than Campbell, has only had 19 more minutes of playing time than the Costa Rican. The German was also close to leaving the Gunners during the summer, only to be stopped by Wenger due to the injury of Giroud.
Maybe then Campbell is being kept as insurance just in case someone else falls down injured. Maybe when Giroud comes back from injury in January, we’ll see him move on loan somewhere to develop his game. Maybe Podolski will leave in January and we’ll see Campbell included more on the Arsenal bench. Who knows.
But after the World Cup he had this summer just gone, it still makes me wonder why he isn’t being included at all now.
The Curious Case of Arsenal’s Joel Campbell goes on…
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