Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is normally the subject of criticism for not signing players, but he’s now ruffled a few feathers by doing the compete opposite: not letting one go.
Joel Campbell—who returned to the Gunners’ setup off the back of an impressive display at the World Cup with Costa Rica—isn’t likely to be a major part of Wenger’s plans in 2014-15, but he still wasn’t allowed to head for the Emirates exit door.
Portuguese giants Benfica were sniffing around for Campbell’s signature on transfer deadline day, but at the 11th hour, Wenger decided to keep hold of the 22-year-old.
That has led Campbell’s agent, Joaquin Batica, to vent his anger to Portuguese media regarding the future of his player, saying that Wenger’s decision to keep his client is something of a head-scratcher, reported via John Cross of the Daily Mirror:
Benfica fought until the last minute to sign Campbell but the operation didn’t happen because, in the last hour, Arsenal decided to keep him. Wenger says he did not want to sell him. But if he is not in his plans, then why not allow him to leave?
Fellow striker Olivier Giroud’s injury looked to have given Campbell a chance in the side, but the last-minute acquisition of Danny Welbeck from Manchester United on Monday has confirmed the substitutes’ bench as the Costa Rican’s likely home for 2014-15.
Campbell has spent time on loan at Lorient, Real Betis and Olympiakos since signing for the Gunners in 2011, and another temporary switch elsewhere wouldn’t exactly be the worst thing for the striker’s career progression.
However, Wenger recently revealed the last thing he ever wants to do is let Campbell play his football elsewhere, despite the fact he’s currently in high demand, per ITV:
We've had lots of enquiries and turned them down. There have been plenty of clubs interested, but I don't know how many. Once I say to my assistant he won't go out on loan, even if people ask about him, my assistant doesn't even tell me. When I say no it's no. He's definitely a target and a player who is wanted by many clubs.
The one club that Wenger failed to mention wanting him, though, is Arsenal, who have only given Campbell a few minutes of action in 2014-15 so far.
Even Yaya Sanogo, a player whose place in the side has mystified many, is keeping Campbell out of the team, and Bleacher Report’s Nick Akerman is one of those feeling sorry for the youngster:
Nick Akerman @Nakerman
Spare a thought for Joel Campbell tonight. Never getting a chance at this rate.2014-9-1 20:22:58
First-team football was a distinct possibility for Campbell with the Benfica move looking likely, and Portuguese newspaper A Bola have now revealed that another side in Portugal had the chance to secure his services, via Benjamin Newman of 101 Great Goals.
Newman writes that Arsenal offered Sporting Lisbon £16 million and Campbell himself for holding midfielder William Carvalho on deadline day, but the Portuguese side rejected the offer.
That means that a season of watching on from the sidelines is now a reality for Campbell, but surely he deserves a shot at making an impact for the Gunners.
As he proved in a very average Costa Rica side in Brazil, he can be incredibly dangerous even against the fiercest of opponents. Wenger looks to have turned a blind eye to such a fact, though, and another talent looks like going to waste on the Arsenal bench.