Joel Campbell’s Progress Evidence that Loan Deals Work… The Ox Next!

Joel Campbell comes from a tiny nation, Costa Rica, with just 4.5m inhabitants. He is only 23 yet he already played at Lorient in France (25 League games), Real Betis (28) and Villarreal (14) in Spain, and in the city of the Gods, Athens (32). This fabulous prospect has moved to the other side of the world to proof himself with only his talents to fall back on. I don’t know what you did between 18 and 23, but Joel beats me hands down in terms of going out in the world and make it happen.


The Ox, at 22 years of age, is also a great talent who was bought at a young age and with a lot of money from Southampton. He has stayed with Arsenal ever since and is just five games away from a PL century. He had a privileged and protected football-upbringing at Arsenal, which is in quite a big contrast to our Costa Rican Gunner.

Regulars on Bergkampesque probably know where I am going with this. I read recently that grit and resilience are easily as important as talent and work rate when it comes to becoming successful. Of course this is nothing new, but it rung a bell when thinking of the current form and progress of Joel and Alex.

As far as I can judge, both players  share the attributes of talent and desire: they are great guys who love football and want to get to the very top. But it is Joel who is making the rapid progress at the moment and who appears to be able to overcome small setbacks better. He is also a lot more effective this season, as in producing goals and assists, than the Ox.

Some will say the Ox is still young, but 95 PL games is a good tally and it is about time we let him go on loan and give him the opportunity to make real progress. But enough said about AOC; let’s talk about JC.

For me, next to Hector Vector’s development, seeing Joel really take to the stage in the last few months has been one of the nicest Arsenal surprises this season. I love this guy: he works his socks off, is not afraid of physical contact (any more), has a great motor, good first touch, fine spacial awareness, is a team player, can assist and score in equal measures. Joel is the sort of player I enjoy just focusing on in a game; you will notice there are more dimensions to his game once you do so.

There is class about him.

I can watch his goal against Sunderland yesterday, time and again. Firstly, there is the awareness of where the space is and him moving into it; Secondly, there is the fine anticipation of the bounce of the ball and him opting to pass it into the corner of the goal rather than blasting it. That for me was class; and then he decided to celebrate in front of the Sunderland away supporters… 🙂

Of course it is still early days, but I reckon we are now starting to reap Arsenal’s AND Joel’s investment in his career. He has made big sacrifices to be where he is today and things will hopefully continue to improve for him. I reckon we will get a lot of joy out of Joel for years to come…


And let me whisper this one more time: the sooner the Ox goes on loan the better for him and Arsenal. Hit the Road Ox and come back when you are a footballer in full.

By TotalArsenal



28 thoughts on “Joel Campbell’s Progress Evidence that Loan Deals Work… The Ox Next!

  • I agree with you 100%. I think OX needs regular football to reach to the next level. I really appreciate how Wegner was patient with Joel Campbell. We are now finally reaping the benefits.

  • Ox was one of our best players up until Wenger and everyone started doubting his ability. Needs regular gametime at Arsenal to lift himself. Don’t think we need to ship him out.

  • Why loan him.. thats ridiculous.. why is he being criticised so much.. there is always a scapegoat.. a few stray balls and he is not good enough.. he had a cracking shot that hit post on saturday and a couple of fantastic passes that led to goals.. does that not assist the team

  • Stew, do you really think he is at the required level at Arsenal?

    I am not scapegoating him at all. In order to make progress he needs to go on loan.

  • Sorry TA, but we must do the agree to disagree thing here again about the Ox… In an ideal world it’s a lovely idea but I think we just don’t live in that world… I also think you’re talking apples and oranges with Campbell and AOC… It IS a terrible shame (and very bad for the national team) that English players so rarely go on loan overseas, but so it goes… Salaries, native comforts, etc., etc, trump ‘life experience’… You’re a guy comfortable living away from your birth country, not exactly something for everybody, however…

    Overall I agree about JC–a very pleasant surprise and a huge reason we’re surviving through all the injuries. Right now, IMO, he’s maximizing his somewhat limited physical gifts. Let’s not kid ourselves, however, he’s scored against Swansea and Sunderland–teams which face each other Wednesday in a crucial relegation six-pointer… (Is he better than Welbeck? Certainly he’s fitter…) Wenger did VERY well keeping him this summer but he was (supposedly) offered to clubs for a fee of around 7 million pounds. If we’d sold him we probably could have excited the support by buying an equivalent prospect (another Welbeck-ish type, maybe…) for 20 million or thereabouts.

    That would have been money well spent by the marketing department but, as AW points out, cohesion is underestimated in football (as is keeping one’s ‘powder dry’)… The same applies for the Ox. Here’s a guy who, if he could just get a few goals into the net, might begin to realize his far more prodigious potential. We’re so thin that the opportunities are there, And, if it happens, sooooo many, including his teammates and the support will be thrilled for him. This season he will start every match in the FA Cup as it is and will be on the bench in all others–at the very least. How many guys can we buy who would be happy in that role?

    Now, on the other hand if we can do a straight swap for Eden Hazard (as the headlines suggest…) or loan him to Chelsea we should do it. Would Hazard want to come and sit on our bench and just play (domestic) cup matches? I doubt it… If Ox does well in South London will Abramovic pay whatever it takes to keep him there? Like Cesc before him, of course he will… Then it’s just old greedy Arsene-L… 😦

    What I’m trying to say–and I know this falls upon deaf ears–is that Arsenal are in a special category at the top of football, but not at the silly money tippy top. The pressures on players are different. Anybody we buy has to produce immediately. (Aha, all the more reason for a loan…) Maybe, but only if the player needs time to develop (physically) or gain exposure to higher pressure situations. With the Ox it’s not the playing time (he’s had plenty) and it’s not physical development…it’s the mental elements that he has failed to master–which would not be present at a lesser club, and if he goes to a silly money club and does well he stays there…

    So, again, that’s my perspective… Sorry… (and don’t forget JNYC’s stock analysis, either…) if he’s a useful–and happy–bench and cover player, keep him and hope, (same with JC, in fact)… If not, let’s cut our losses (or take our profits…) and move on…

  • Proper comment Seventeenho and much not agreed on, but I appreciate it nevertheless. 🙂

    Why apples and pears? Ox could have been loaned out almost everywhere and he would be better now. We pampered him and not Campbell and the Costa Rican is way ahead now… I rate Welbeck not much higher than Ox, but they are different players. Campbell has more football intelligence and is a classier player

  • There is so much money at Arsenal. We really don’t have to believe we need to keep hold of Ox because the alternative is worse – just don’t buy it.

    The idea that the Ox could be swapped with Hazard is of course gossip porn. Never going to happen.

  • Already off to bed, TA?…

    Final word… It’s one thing to say “We should HAVE loaned out the Ox” (total agreement…) and another to say, “We should loan the Ox out (now).”

    As I’ve said before, if we loan him now it’s just an intermediate step before a full sale…unless a bunch of planets line up… When our squad gets healthier (and better through acquisitions) going that route (or just a straight sale to a sucker club–see Adebayor, Clichy, Nasri, etc. to ManCity for examples…) might happen. On the other hand, this 2nd half of the season seems a great “last chance…”

    Sleep well…

  • TA,

    This is a post that has a human face. Joel and Ox, two nice lads doing great but still needing guidance and encouragement. I feel so bad that sometimes I bring out my knife and begin to butcher. Thanks TA, for this post. It feels good looking at them through the lens of young chaps growing up.

    Joel transformed so quickly in my eyes. Two months ago I wanted him chunked out. Now he is a fixture in my XI. Am so glad that am not the only one who recognized that the goal he scored v. Sundeland was technically a very difficult one. He did about the only thing to be done to turn that chance into a goal. And what about that one touch return pass to Bel for the second goal. He is growing in authority and I have a feeling that when eventually he is in full flight, we will not cease to marvel. And that’s not long from now.

    The Ox is one of the technically most gifted players that we have. He has developed one side of his game fully. Another side which is psychological awaits, and which, imo, is for him to understand deeply that he is merely just another member of a team, I repeat a team. Guardiola’s tiki-taka teams are merely 11 players linked up by the ball and movements that quite often look as if the play is going no where. Yet they conquer. 11 players with total faith in each other and in the supremacy of the team play.

    Where can the Ox learn this philosophy? Central midfield where he would find himself surrounded by his team mates, and where the only way to go about his business would have to be through pass and move, give and take.

    Our midfield is stocked full with little or no space for the apprentice and that makes a loan move a right option. The loan move should be on the condition that he has to be played as a CM. Spain would be the ideal destination.

  • Guys,

    As much as i comment badly on the Ox, i would rather he stay in the team and build on his passing ability rather than loan him out.

    The reason is that he would have less game time, but staying with the same team will reap benefits in his game.

    Positionally he is not perfect. Maybe by giving him the license to roam helps, but definitely he can deputise for Rambo or Ozil when the need comes. And our injury list is the same every year.


  • Because of our injuries the loan move should be for next season. Ox must be given every chance to hit his potential which I rate very highly.

  • Joel Campbell took his chance and plus the guy works his socks off defensively. When Carzola, Sanchez and Jack Wiltshire returns playing time will be tough. So now is the perfect timing for OX to impress.Unfortunately at this time he’s struggling. So won’t a loan assist in his development. I honestly think so.

  • 17HT 🙂

    Both apply: he should have been loaned AND it is not too late to still do so. Isn’t Campbell showing to us how much benefits it can bring?

  • I reckon that, subconsciously, too many Gooners see a loan as a punishment rather than a great opportunity to learn. Jack’s spell at Bolton helped him become a better player; LeCoq’s time in Germany and Charlton helped him to become a man and come back to fight for his place. It doesn’t mean it always works out but a player definitely improves their chances of developing to the full.

    PE and Keston, all agreed and well put.

  • It’s about combing speed/technical talent/energy with Bergkampesque stillness. It is the latter that the Ox needs to develop, and I think he would have a better chance in doing this whilst on loan at a Leicester, Norwich, Swansea, Ajax, PSV, HSV, etc, etc.

  • ……. speed/technical talent/energy with Bergkampesque stillness – and faith that there is magic in that little innocuous give and take interplay with your team mates.

  • I agree a loan move would be beneficial and should happen more with young English players, to other countries too which adds other dimensions to a player. However I think this is very unlikely until next year.

    In the here and now with injuries playing there part he will get chances in the middle to feel more comfortable and grow particularly regarding the mental qualities. It is more likely a loan next year if he doesn’t mature sufficiently this year… but going on the last performance I thought he looked more comfortable in the middle and would be even more so with a more solid DM e.g. Le Coq or further down the line a more mature Chambers (although he is doing pretty well also when given the chances).

    On getting enough chances to play and mature – they will come Ox’s way in the Cup and maybe also some league games in centre mid – but it’s whether he gets enough of them with returning players as the season progresses. I think he might well do but it’s not a certainty so a loan in the summer shouldn’t be ruled out.

  • A balanced response, FMJ14 🙂

    I guess we will know more by the end of the month. Elneny could have joined, Rosicky and Arteta back and we might get another attacker… Le Coq and Santi will also return in the next two months. Don’t put your money on it but Ox on loan seems likely to me.

  • With players like jack and rosicky returning, then coq and santi, im afraid there wont be enough minutes for either joel nor oxlade. Especially when you remember how Arsene feels more secure, and likes to play a traditional midfielder on one wing. And there im expecting Wilshere to get time if Ramsey is playing cm.
    Thats why i dont see us buying any speedy wingers any time soon. You will have a lack of minutes for ox and campbell already. And i do remember oxlade in his most recent post game interview, making sure to mention more than once, that he needs minutes and playing time.
    It seemed to me like he was dropping a hint, and that he may be frustrated. I do kind of understand, because he is uber talented.
    I also think he’s better in midfield than on the wing.
    As an England international, i dont imagine him being loaned out. And if he doesnt play enough, he may start to look for a transfer.

  • Good one Johnnie 🙂

    I reckon Campbell is more versatile, and looks good on the wing, where we don’t have too much cover, especially if we are to play Theo as our CF now and again. But maybe you are right that both of them might have to look somewhere else.

  • The home draws are doing us a big favour, as we have been strong at home.

    Can we do the same for away games and make the away form stronger?


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