Costa Rica's Joel Campbell started his 2014 World Cup campaign with a bang on Saturday, and Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger apparently was one of the many millions watching.
The French coach told Sportsmail (h/t The Daily Mail's Matt Lawton) he won't be sending the young winger straight out on loan again like did last season, opting to keep him at the club for the pre-season:
"He will definitely come back to us for pre-season. He is maturing well."
Campbell was signed by the Gunners three years ago but has spent every season out on loan, including a stint in Greece with Olympiacos last year. He impressed analysts with a solid showing in the UEFA Champions League and continued his rapid progress with the Costa Rican team during their preparations for the World Cup.
Against Uruguay, Campbell exploded in the second half, opening the score for his team and making the Celeste full-backs look bad for the majority of the match. Here's the goal one more time, via World Soccer Talk:
He was so good he frustrated Maxi Pereira to the point the defender could no longer contain himself, committing a cynical foul that led to the tournament's first red card.
Campbell told reporters he intends to return to Arsenal next season, but that he is focused on the World Cup first and foremost:
Of course I have to go back, because I have a contract with Arsenal. The most important thing just now is my country and the World Cup. Today was excellent for me, but it would have come to nothing without the contribution of my team-mates. Everyone lived up to their responsibilities. I tried to do my best to score goals and my colleagues supported me.
The hype surrounding the player may have suddenly exploded due to his phenomenal game against the heavily favoured Uruguayans, but as shared by RealTV's Phil Kitromilides, Campbell has been playing at this level for some time now:
Joel Campbell has been like this all season for Olympiakos. Dymamic, skilful and a super finisher. Proper player.— Phil Kitromilides (@PhilKitro) June 14, 2014
France Football's Philippe Auclair thinks Campbell's emergence could impact the club's transfer plans:
Joel Campbell gives Arsene Wenger another excuse not to sign up another striker.— Philippe Auclair (@PhilippeAuclair) June 14, 2014
The 21-year-old will still have to prove himself at the club level, but following his brilliant 2013-14 campaign and his great showing in the World Cup already, it's no surprise Arsenal are planning on giving him a chance.
Costa Rica will take on the Italians next, and if Campbell can continue his great run against their world-class defenders, he could force Wenger's hand even more.