Everything you need to know about... Joel Campbell

Rohan Banerjee profiles the young Arsenal loanee hoping to cut England's World Cup short this summer...

The 60-second story

Sidestepping Michael Carrick before curling in an exquisite shot from 30 yards, Campbell’s goal against Manchester United in the Champions League earlier this season forced football to sit up and take notice. 

Starting out at hometown club Deportivo Saprissa in 2009, it took only a handful of first-team appearances before his potential was recognised by some of Europe’s most elite suitors. In the end it was Arsenal who secured the winger’s signature, landing him on a five-year deal in 2011. But, unable to gain a work permit, Campbell was sent on a season-long loan to Lorient in France, whom he helped avoid relegation. In 2012 he was sent on loan again, this time to Spain’s Real Betis, playing his part in Pepe Mel’s side's seventh-place finish as they qualified for the Europa League. By summer 2013, Campbell had secured a work permit, but Arsene Wenger opted for a third successive loan spell with Greek giants Olympiakos to aid the player’s development.  

FACT FILE

  •     Tanggal lahir: 26 Juni 1992
  •     Tempat lahir: San Jose, Costa Rica
  •     Posisi: Penyerang
  •     Tinggi: 178 centimeter
  •     Bekas klub: Saprissa, Puntarenas (dipinjamkan), Lorient (dipinjamkan), Real Betis (dipinjamkan)
  •     Klub saat ini: Olympiakos (dipinjamkan dari Arsenal); 40 laga (32 starter), 11 gol
  •     Timnas: Kosta Rika; 31 laga (22 starter), 9 gol
  •     Prestasi: Greek Superleague 2013/2014

They were crowned league champions with five games to spare this season, and there can be no doubting the contribution of Campbell to that achievement. Four assists in the 5-1 win over Crete and two more against PAOK are an impressive foil for his 11 goals in all competitions. With blistering pace, great anticipation and outstanding spatial awareness, it's with little wonder that the 21-year-old is already a mainstay in Costa Rica’s national side. 

Why you need to know him

Aside from being contracted to Arsenal and scoring against Manchester United, English fans should be made aware that Campbell will almost certainly be playing against them in Brazil this summer. With Costa Rica earmarked as the must-win game for Roy Hodgson's men in Group D, Campbell offers his country’s best chance of an upset. He's already made his mark against English opposition this season, after all. 

Strengths

Floating effortlessly between wide and central positions, Campbell is a player who can expose the cracks of the more rigid systems. Equally capable with both feet, with lightning speed and an eye for improvisation, the Costa Rican exudes a confidence well beyond his years. 

Weaknesses

Sometimes that confidence can breed overconfidence, and Campbell certainly isn't the finished article in this respect. Last year he was criticised for diving against the United States in a CONCACAF qualifier, for example. And, like most flair players, he can’t tackle. 

They said…

Former Manchester Untied and current Olympiakos goal keeper, Roy Carroll, commented on his team-mate’s performance against his old club in the Champions League: “If Arsenal aren’t serious about him, then they could miss out on a major talent,” said the Northern Irishman. “He’s been doing really well for us. He’s learning every game because he’s played in France and Spain as well. He’s been playing Champions League football regularly and he’s probably one of our best players at the moment.” 

Campbell’s reputation is growing and his agent Joaquim Batica has already warned, “He would not be happy sitting on the bench, even at a big club.” But Arsene Wenger remains coy on the winger’s situation. “His future at Arsenal? I’ll decide later,” murmured the Frenchman. 

Joel Campbell, Manchester United

Campbell has already got Rooney & Co. in a tizz this season

Did you know?

Campbell was first watched by former Costa Rica manager Ricardo La Volpe practicing kick-ups with empty cans.   

What happens next?

Despite his obvious promise, Campbell finds himself in limbo at Arsenal. With Theo Walcott, Lukas Podolski and the emergent Serge Gnabry to compete with, the youngster will have his work cut out for him if he is to command a starting berth. This summer’s World Cup will be his chance to test himself - and truly impress against some tough opposition - and if he doesn’t have a future at the Emirates, some good performances here will ensure he definitely gets one elsewhere.  

Talentspotter ratings

Shooting 7 • Heading 6 • Passing 7 • Tackling 5 • Pace 9 • Dribbling 8 • Creativity 7 • Work-rate 7 • Positioning 8


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