You have got to feel sorry for Joel Campbell. Having signed for Arsenal in 2011 he was unable to obtain the necessary work permit to play in the U.K.
What followed was three years on loan to different clubs. First came Lorient in the French League, followed by Real Betis in Spain and finally Olympiacos, where he won the Greek championship.
Campbell came back for the 2014/15 season after his successful season in Greece. But it was short lived, as he was loaned out again for the final six months of the season to Spanish side Villarreal.
After impressing again out on loan for Villarreal, Campbell was back at Arsenal and ready to stake his claim for a first team spot.
He had an up and down season playing in 31 matches, 10 of them as substitute and scoring 4 goals across all competitions. But there were some sparks in matches where he looked the real deal.
It wasn’t a season where he set the world on fire, but majority of fans felt he had done enough to merit being in the first team squad.
However, the club clearly felt differently and Campbell was once again loaned out at the start of this season to Sporting CP in the Portuguese Primeira Liga.
Sporting CP currently are in 3rd place and Campbell has scored 3 goals in 14 matches.
But you have to wonder what makes him look a world beater away from the club, however when he’s at the Emirates, sometimes he looks average.
His performances at times for Costa Rica have been excellent. He made everyone sit up and notice in the 2014 World Cup. His performance in the group stages against Uruguay in particular, really made him stand out, Campbell scoring one and assisting with another during the match. Costa Rica’s match against Greece in the knockout stages was another impresses performance. With the team down to 10 men, Campbell continued to run the channels and hold the ball up continuously for 120 minutes. Even taking a penalty as Cost Rica went through 5-3 on spot kicks.
Suddenly people wanted to know who this player was and who he played for. Even Arsenal fans, who had yet to see him play, were wondering when he would make an appearance at the Emirates.
Add to that his season at Olympiacos. Who can forget when he played against Manchester United in the Champions League and looked unbeatable. Even his six months at Villarreal he looked lively and impressed.
Whether he feels the pressure of performing for Arsenal or just needs more consistent game time playing week in, week out, it’s a dilemma that the club need to resolve.
He has fantastic ability and can play on either flank. Add his pace and ability to find a pass and you wonder why he isn’t playing at the Emirates this season.
It is possible that Arsene Wenger felt the Costa Rican’s game time would be limited but many supporters believe he should have been given his chance.
It would be sad for the fans and the player if next season he is not back playing in an Arsenal shirt. I for one, hope that he gets given his chance to really show what he can do because on his day he is a fantastic player. He just needs to be more consistent.