CONCACAF aficionados have long watched the development of Joel Campbell with bated breath (what else are we supposed to do?). The Costa Rican international has routinely punished the United States in international competition, and he seemed to come of age at the 2014 World Cup after scoring against Uruguay.
However, after (somewhat) signing for Arsenal as a 19-year-old in 2011 (he didn’t receive the proper work permit until 2013), Campbell has routinely failed to impress at club level (outside of Arsenal's Emirates Cup, of course).
A successful loan spell essentially means that in another, hypothetical reality, your parent club is so impressed by your performances that they purchase you in the transfer market. In actual reality, it means that your recall is celebrated like a new signing. That’s never been the case with Campbell.
Campbell has been sent on loan on five occasions with Arsenal, sampling football in four different countries in the process. But stints in France (Lorient), Spain (Real Betis and Villarreal), Greece (Olympiakos) and Portugal (Sporting CP) have brought a return of 17 goals in 117 league matches. The forward hasn’t been spitting hot fire in Europe.
In that alternate, hypothetical reality, Campbell’s European performances wouldn’t have merited a second look from Arsenal. But he remains on the books there with his contract running for at least another year.
Now, it’s been reported that Campbell has told Arsenal that “he is reluctant to go out on another loan”, his sixth with the club. This puts Arsenal in a difficult place: while losing Campbell wouldn’t be detrimental whatsoever to Wenger’s plans, the club will be forced to accept an incredibly low offer for a 25-year-old that they’ve invested quite a lot in.
It’s within Campbell’s best interests to move on, especially with the World Cup looming, but it’d be a fittingly anti-climatic end to an Arsenal career that only Gooners and CONCACAF aficionados were ever aware of.