They are two youngsters who both joined the club in 2011 and are officially part of the first-team squad, but have spent much of the ensuing period on loan at various clubs. That, however, is where the similarities are likely to end for Ryo and Joel Campbell, with the former poised to stake his claim for a regular place in the Arsenal squad this summer, whilst Campbell looks set to spend another season in Spain with Real Betis.
For all the attention that the two players have attracted, and in Ryo’s case it has been considerable, the pair have made just two senior outings for the club between them, with both of those coming as the Japanese youngster made cameo appearances in the Carling Cup during the 2011/12 campaign.
Both players were plucked from relative obscurity, with Ryo joining the club straight from High School and Campbell signed off the back of some impressive performances for his country, Costa Rica, but, with Ryo now 20 years old and Campbell turning 21 later this month, a decision will need to be made over their respective long-term futures sooner rather than later.
Ryo has not had an easy run since joining the club. He caught the eye with his electric speed when featuring for an Arsenal XI against Boreham Wood in 2010 whilst still technically a trialist and transferred some of that good form to a higher level with Feyenoord during the 2010/11 campaign, earning rave reviews and even being referred to as “Ryodinho” in some quarters. Since earning a work permit enabling him to play competitively in England, however, the winger has struggled to make a significant impact.
He did relatively well with Bolton Wanderers in 2011/12, winning the club’s Player of the Month award for February, but was barely involved in the latter stages of the campaign and, this time around, saw his spell with Wigan Athletic hampered by a succession of injuries, although he did shine in the Capital One Cup.
Campbell, like Ryo, is a full international, but, conversely, has yet to receive his work permit; indeed the club have yet to even apply for one. He has made half a century of league appearances combined over the past two seasons, yet his spells with Lorient in France and Real Betis in Spain have yielded a total of just five goals. Campbell certainly possesses much raw potential and is a powerful presence, but, if he is to ever make the grade at Emirates Stadium, then his goalscoring record will need to improve considerably.
As it stands, Campbell is likely to remain with Betis for another campaign, after which he will assess his options. Ryo, meanwhile, provided he has fully recovered from injury, will travel with the first-team on their tour of Asia and will be hopeful of being involved, in some capacity at least, during the forthcoming campaign.