Whether he will be the only signing of the winter session or not, I am very pleased with the arrival of Mohamed Elneny; young, versatile, strong and already experienced, the Egyptian can be a very good addition to this team and help us maintain our excellent position in the league.
This article, however, is being written to praise the player I consider as the real new signing of this campaign – and for once those words do not apply to Abou Diaby or Tomas Rosicky.
I am talking about Joel Campbell.
The Costa Rica man has been an absolute revelation since he had the opportunity to play a run of games: I knew he was technically gifted but I couldn’t imagine how hard he works and how much of a team player he is.
Seeing him providing THAT beautiful assist to Olivier Giroud in Athens I was ecstatic, as was seeing him tracking back with the Greek full-back. It was on that night I realized we had a real player in our hands.
The purpose of my weekly column is to apologize to the man, who I wrote off rather quickly and on whom I wasn’t really counting – persuaded that all the loan deals were arranged to raise the price of a sale that looked inevitable. Joel Campbell deserves a lot of praise for his determination, team spirit and commitment because he had to climb a very high mountain to get where he is today.
At some point, the only two people who believed he could make it at the Arsenal were the player himself and perhaps Arsène Wenger.
I am not afraid to say that I wasn’t among those who thought he could have a future at the Club; to my eyes, he wasn’t good enough: quite tidy on the ball, the former Olympiacos, Villarreal, Betis and Lorient man had very little to offer in terms of finishing, presence and creativity – let alone defending or at least tracking back.
In my defence, I must say that he didn’t really impress while on loan in the French Ligue 1 or Spanish La Liga, while the only memory of his time in Greece was the goal he scored against Manchester United. I can’t recall too many exciting reports about how he carried a mid-table team like Lorient to unprecedented heights or how he became the key player at Betis. A good game here, an assist there, a goal perhaps but no magic and, more worryingly, no consistency.
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I genuinely thought that the World Cup in 2014, where he impressed in one and a half games, was the perfect time to get the best deal and sell him. Therefore I was left a bit non-plussed when I saw Arsène Wenger insisting on keeping him.
I am here today to say I WAS WRONG about Joel Campbell.
For those who would like to say the same – and we all know I am not alone in this appalling error of judgment – the comments section is open.
Don’t be shy, Gooners.