Joel Campbell – A Prophet
I think we’re all in agreement that ITV’s World Cup coverage has been predictably awful; except perhaps for the hilarious sight of Chiles, Hoddle et al sat on the decking in their holiday wear and sensible shoes, trying desperately to be taken seriously.
One other exception has been the consistently decent (much like in his playing days) punditry and co-comms from Lee Dixon. Last night, during a pretty drab first half of Costa Rica vs. Greece, Dixon described a recent encounter with Arsene Wenger in a Brazilian hotel – if that doesn’t compel you to read on, nothing will!). Dicko, using all his broadcasting knowledge, managed to tease onlookers before waiting what seemed like an entire half of football to finish the story: Dixon mentioned how good Campbell had been playing and that Wenger must be delighted to have him, to which Le Boss divulged that Arsenal almost sold him a while back. When Dixon asked if Campbell will return to Arsenal, Wenger said ‘we will see’. Almost certainly followed by that cheeky smile of his.
There’s no doubt Campbell can offer Arsenal something different, with his ability to play on the shoulder and run the channels, as well as drop into false-9 territory and link the play. He has some tricks up his sleeve also, as well as a lovely left foot. He also provides decent set-piece delivery – pretty much an Arsenal anomaly since the departure of Robin van Persie, a player that Campbell dreams of emulating.
It may well have been ‘brass neck’ on my part, but when we signed Joel Campbell, I just had a feeling that he would become a worldy:
Sticking my neck out here. Think Joel Campbell will be world class.
— wearethenorthbank (@northbanklower) April 15, 2012
It’s still premature to claim as such, but that feeling remains, especially having watched him destroy Manchester United in the Champions League this season (something we’ve failed to do for a long while), and of course at the World Cup.
When we signed him, bizarely wearing the previous season’s kit, like most, I hadn’t seen him play live – but had seen him feature for Costa Rica in the Copa America on the telly, where he had obviously caught Wenger’s eye, as well as that of Chief Scout, Steve Rowley.
Heck, he’s already got the Giroud Finger Snap down to a tee…
And he was into humorous Panini tweeting way before Balotelli.
— Joel Campbell (@joel_campbell12) April 9, 2014
Now he’s adding consistency to his game, and has performed maturely for a 22-year-old at his first World Cup, leading Costa Rica into the quarter finals for the first time. His penalty in the shootout showed courage and class, especially as he had ran himself into the ground, with his team a man down.
In recent years, we’ve seen that World Class talent alone simply isn’t enough to be a success at Arsenal. Let’s hope that Campbell’s team ethic and desire will complement his talent, and he will succeed where the likes of Arshavin, Bendtner, Gervinho and Vela failed.