The Case For & Against Selling Joel Campbell
We harken back to those days last season when some Gooners on a train platform at Stoke-on-Trent bellowed out for all the world to hear “Get out while you can Joel” and then leap forward to today to a player some are saying has supplanted Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in the depth chart. The jury is out on the lad with successes and failures on display with regularity. So what should Arsenal do with him?
Joel has a problem when Arsenal are healthy. He won’t get time. Just like Ox won’t get time, he won’t get the necessary time he likely will want. Still though, does that mean Arsenal should sell him or should they keep him as a viable back up? We lay out the case for both.
The case for selling Joel is two fold. First, there is the argument that Campbell simply isn’t good enough to every fully make it at Arsenal. Apart from the last month or so the Costa Rican has largely failed to impress at Arsenal. Initially it was a case of work permit issues and then playing time that forced him into a number of loan spells, most notably at Olympiacos. His detractors will say that he’s mid table standard, a player with promise but one who doesn’t display it consistently enough to be a key player for one of the worlds leading clubs. In addition to the sub-standard argument, there is the cash in argument. Following the World Cup in which Joel increased his value with a number of quality displays, there were calls by some to sell him and cash in on his hike in value. Similarly, with Campbell playing a key role lately due to injuries, his value will have increased again. When players like Jack Wilshere, Danny Welbeck, Alexis Sanchez, and Tomas Rosicky return from injury, Campbell might find it increasingly hard to find consistent playing time and his value will dip again.
Piggybacking off that idea, is the notion that Joel himself may want to be sold. Although it’s a rare almost unheard of occurrence at Arsenal, when almost all the players are fit there is a question over whether Campbell even makes the bench. After getting a taste of sustained first team action, will he really want to find himself relegated again to the odd rotation start or Cup game? In essence, it would benefit all parties now to do a deal. Arsenal can cash in on Campbell’s value and Joel can use this recent showcase to nail down a starting spot at another club.
The argument for keeping Campbell at Arsenal for the long term is also multifaceted. As Arsenal are currently proving, winning the Premier League almost always takes a deep squad, not just a great starting XI. When injuries hit and the fixtures start to pile up, Wenger needs to be able to count on some of his squad players to come in and do a job. Campbell has proven over the last few months to be more than capable of doing a job on the wing. He has a particularly industrious nature, is constantly fighting for the team, and unlike some of Arsenal’s other wingers he doesn’t neglect his defensive duties. His form has kept Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain on the bench since his return from injury, and a comparison between Joel and Ox is intriguing. Chamberlain is clearly the more talented player but he seems to lack composure and decision making, particularly in the final third. Too often Ox will dirbble into a cul-de-sac or fail to get his head up to spot an easy pass (Everton at home his year springs to mind). On the other hand, Campbell has proven to have a knack for finding players around goal (his pass and vision for Giroud’s second goal against Olmypiacos springs to mind).
Every player in a squad cannot be a world class player, despite what fans think it just doesn’t work like that. Teams have to have 3rd, 4th, and in Arsenal’s case even 5th choice players who are content with their roles within the team and can perform when called upon. Joel is that player. If Arsenal were to have sold Campbell in the summer or sent him out on another loan, who would be currently filling his spot? It would either fall to an out of form Oxlade-Chamberlain, a left-back in Kiearn Gibbs, or a youth player like Alex Iwobi (Jeff Reine-Adelaide is another youth player who could possibly fill in). Arsenal have plenty of money, there is no real need for them to “cash-in” on Campbell in that regard and doing so may crate a void in their squad that they would then have to fill with all their injury issues. Given Danny Welbeck’s precarious knee situation, Jack Wilshere’s injury record, and Tomas Rosicky’s age, it would be foolish to run him out when he could prove invaluable in Arsenal’s quest for the Premier League Title.