Fearless. Apart from electricity and genuine excitement, that’s all that was going through my mind when watching Joel Campbell’s performance against Uruguay, and in the World Cup – which has been excellent so far. I say watching, but really, I was a pleasantly shocked witness to this alarming performance from this kid who decided to come out of the shadows roaring and take his chance. Honestly, other than the United wonder goal, it’s my first real chance, over an extended period, to watch Campbell. And he really did impress. Bar Robben, and Van Persie, he’s been the best player at the World Cup. He’s 21, plays for this little Costa Rican team, who were expected to be walked on, and he’s turned the whole group on its head. One goal. One assist. He looked the most accomplished player on the pitch by a mile. Also, a certain Edinson Cavani was playing. I saw him once. He scored a penalty. But let’s face it: everyone was leaning from their seats whenever Campbell got the ball.
Now, I’m quite worried about writing an article arguing why Arsene should save his money and stick with this 21-year-old Costa Rican, who’s been in the dark, forgotten, and on loan for the past three years. Arsene looking to save money and pick up a bargain is not what fans want to hear, especially when we’ve been promised a summer of gold. I want Arsenal to spend money. Reality dictates that they have to spend money; it’s spend money or be trampled upon. I like the former better. But it’s hard not to see the sensible and sane side of things when Joel Campbell, who is buy trade a signature Arsene Wenger punt, puts in this eye-opening performance, and basically shouts: look at me, look at what I’m doing, pick me, pick me. And yes, we should definitely pick him. But not at the expensive of a world-class winger. Campbell can still come in and be a success story next season, but Wenger doesn’t have to go down the heavily flawed route of handing this kid the weight of the world by not signing a proven wide forward. That’s not saying that he isn’t proven enough, it’s just that Joel Campbell is still a risk. And I don’t want to keep saying ‘kid’, when really he showed us he’s anything but that against Uruguay. He stood up, he made the game his. He was Costa Rica’s star player. They looked for him every time to make something happen, and he delivered on that expectation. He was the heart of everything good in that game. So maybe he could handle the expectation at Arsenal if he were to come in, and be Wenger’s only wide-man signing. Well, it’s not really a signing; it’s a bit sneaky. Also, on a side note, Campbell by a long, long way, looks the most accomplished and first-team ready out of Arsenal’s youth prospects, both on loan, and currently with the club. I like Sanogo. But I like Campbell a lot more.
Let’s get to his game, which was seriously exciting. It didn’t even take long. His first real contribution was a 30-yard pile driver, which was so close it teased the side netting. I want that at Arsenal. Campbell craves to do his own thing; run at people, shoot from crazy distances and odd angles, and the most impressive thing about it…he expected to score. In the second half, after a promising first, he stepped up another gear, like he decided he should probably go and win this game for his team. And guess what? He did. He took his goal excellently, a confident, calm, clinical finish. He was turning to celebrate before it hit the net. He already knew. So did the keeper; he didn’t move an inch. That got Campbell, and Costa Rica, off and running. Uruguay were riled. Then Campbell started running at them, really running at them. Godin and Lugano were a little perplexed. Rash challenges came. He put the burners on against Godin, a Champions League finalist, who’s had one of his best seasons at Atletico. He’s been one of the defenders of the season. Campbell didn’t care. He ran and left him. Then he thought he’d curl a shot from 30 yards out again. It hit the pole to the side of the goal. Amazingly, Campbell sank to his knees and looked devastated that he hadn’t scored. He really believed he should have. So confident! So exciting! Arsenal really could have found a use for him last season. And I’m sure Ozil would love him. He isn’t just raw and confident, though, he has the head for the game, too. His assist was perfectly weighted; something a seasoned creative midfielder pulls off. He looked up, and made a pass that nobody saw. Costa Rica scored again. Campbell had hurt them again. He’s got an end product in his locker, and only 21, and only on loan at Olympiacos, which isn’t the best of places to develop into a world-beater. And if I’m honest, if can play like he did against Uruguay, on a regular basis, then he shouldn’t be left and forgotten in a Greek league. To top his performance off, he produced some fancy skill in the corner, wound some players up, Maxi Pereira got mad, and so he kicked him to the floor. He got sent off. It was another point to Joel Campbell. Now, this article is probably, slightly, most definitely, glorified, but that shows how refreshing it was too watch Campbell, this Arsenal player who’s frankly never been in the picture, steal the limelight from players supposedly world-class and reaching towards the £30/40 million bracket of transfer fees.
Campbell was like an exciting, brand new toy, that’d we’d forgotten about and never used. Next season, Joel Campbell has to be included, and reports say that he has already agreed to come back, which if true, I’m really happy about. He’d be a perfect addition, both to start and to provide cover on the bench. Wenger doesn’t like spending, so Campbell seems certain to be playing for Arsenal next season. Let’s hope the recent performance wasn’t a one off, and then we really do have a player on our hands.