Given the lengths that Arsenal went to sign Joel Campbell from Saprissa two summers ago, the possibility of the winger not playing a competitive game for the club may seem somewhat unfathomable, but now appears to be an increasing possibility after he sealed his third loan move in as many seasons by joining Olympiacos.
After spells with Lorient in France and Real Betis in Spain, Campbell will spend the upcoming season with the Greek champions, for whom he will compete in the Champions League. Participating in Europe’s elite club competition will no doubt accelerate Campbell’s development, but, at this stage, it appears unlikely that Arsenal will reap the benefits.
The Costa Rican international received a work permit enabling him to play competitively in England earlier this month, but the fact that he has been loaned out to a foreign side rather than a domestic club suggests that this latest loan could be the precursor to a permanent move, as do reports that the temporary transfer will contain an option for Olympiacos to purchase the player at the end of the season.
If Campbell does not feature at all for Arsenal then it would seem rather a shame given the protracted negotiations that were required to secure his signature in 2011. Other than a handful of training sessions, he has not spent much time at London Colney, despite the fact that he is officially part of the first-team squad.
Campbell does remain a promising, if still somewhat raw talent. His performances on the international stage for Costa Rica have been largely impressive, with his goal against Spain in a friendly a particular highlight. At club level, however, he still has some way to go to establish himself, having only found the net five times in total during his spells with Lorient and Betis.
That said, the winger possesses a blend of pace and power that can cause a multitude of problems for the opposition. The fact that Arsene Wenger has opted to retain Ryo Miyaichi ahead of him, at least for the time being, provides an indication of where Campbell’s future lies however, with this latest move suggesting that, despite his promise, a lot would need to change in the next twelve months for him to have a long-term future at Emirates Stadium.