Confirmation came through yesterday that Sol Campbell has elected to play for Newcastle next season. Campbell signed a one-year contract there, effectively ending his second spell as an Arsenal player.
Technically, Campbell ceased to be an Arsenal player about four weeks ago when his contract expired; however, rumours have circulated that he might have been willing to sign with the club again after his honeymoon, and given Arsenal's current shortage of defenders, and the excellent contribution Campbell made in the second half of last season, it's disappointing that he hasn't done that.
Never the less, his decision is completely understandable, and if regular football is his aim then it's probably the right move. His new wife is from the Newcastle area as well, so you can see why it's a desirable move for him.
Campbell rejoined Arsenal back in January, signing once again on a free transfer. At the time, Arsenal were riding their luck with the central defence position. Vermaelen and Gallas had played almost every game of the campaign and an injury to one of them was inevitable.
Although Campbell was brought in to be backup, injuries soon earned him a place in the starting 11. His contribution was remarkable, and he was certainly one of Arsenal's best players last season.
His presence and work ethic did a lot to show up the shortcomings of some of the other members of our squad. Whilst some of our players coasted through the season, content to keep picking up their massive wages, Sol Campbell, a 35-year-old man who has won it all and has nothing to prove, was battling away with hard work and professionalism that seems to have gone a bit missing at Arsenal these last few years.
He was not once, to my recollection, done for pace by anyone during his second spell with Arsenal. He never gave up, and his behaviour was that of a club captain whenever he was on the field. His contribution will be missed, I feel.
Campbell's first spell at Arsenal yielded a double, two FA Cups, and a league title won without losing a single game. Sadly, he didn't add to that impressive collection during his second tenure, but I think he might have accomplished something just as important for Arsenal.
I think Arsene Wenger cannot be blind to the way Campbell, a man at the end of his career, showed up some of his youngsters. I think he's made Wenger see the need for change in the team if Arsenal are to win trophies again. And, of course, I think it might have reminded the coach how significant experience can be in a team.
I always felt Sol Campbell was tarnished by the way he left Arsenal the first time. Getting his contract cancelled so he could move abroad, and then signing for Portsmouth, and also a lacklustre final season for the club (despite scoring the goal that put Arsenal ahead in the Champions League Final). There was also that bizarre incident where he stormed out of Highbury at half-time during a defeat to West Ham United that can be argued to have been his fault.
These things left a cloud over his legacy with Arsenal fans, despite his contribution to some magnificent achievements for the club. I believe Campbell has redeemed himself for that during his second stint with the club. He contributed more to this past season than anyone could have expected of him, and in doing so signed off his Arsenal career in a much more appropriate and commendable way than he did at the first time of asking.
Good luck to Sol Campbell, and I look forward to welcoming him back when Newcastle visit the Grove this season.
Of course, his departure leaves us in need of at least one more central defender. We are vaguely linked with Stuttgart centre-half Serdar Tasci this morning, but no concrete news as of yet.
A few other bits and pieces around this morning. Nicklas Bendtner will not be fit for the start of the season. I'll try to contain my astonishment. That article does mention though that Johan Djourou's injury isn't too bad and he should be available for the Emirates Cup. It's good news to have at least one senior defender available for cover.
I did enjoy Arsene Wenger describing Barcelona's incessant talking about the future of Cesc Fabregas as simple "noise."
I case you missed it, here's what the boss said: "It is only noise. In our job we have to deal with what we can master. What we cannot influence is not to worry about," and quite right too. Barcelona seem to be getting the message finally, but if they do start up again, remember it's just noise. I like that way of thinking of it quite a lot.
That's all for today. Once again, so long Sol, best of luck to him up there at Newcastle. I will be back tomorrow. Until then.
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