Joel Campbell – Betis’ workhorse

Posted: February 14, 2013 in Arsenal, La Liga, Premier League
Joel Campbell when he joined Real Betis on loan.

Joel Campbell when he joined Real Betis on loan.

There are times when you look at a striker’s stats, and are able to build a judgement on them. If they’ve scored quite a few goals in a decent amount of games, they’re deemed as ‘quality’ players. If, like Joel Campbell, they don’t have ‘stand-out’ stats that you look for in a striker, some will look at him and think he’s not that good. Well, that’s where the cliché, ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’, comes in.

With only two goals and one assist to his name this season, Joel Campbell hasn’t been a prolific ‘striker’, so to speak. An outstanding goal, candidate for Betis’ goal of the season, against Depor has easily been his best solo moment for Betis. But, what Campbell brings to a team like Betis isn’t just goals; especially when he hasn’t even been deployed in that centre-forward position. Betis’ manager, Pepe Mel,  has used the Costa Rican on either flank in a 4-3-3, or as a right-midfielder in a 4-4-2. Having said that, it isn’t odd at all to see Campbell in a more central position, during a game, because of the interchanging between the front-three of himself, Ruben Castro and Molina.

Joel Campbell's two goals this season via [ Squawka stats ]

Joel Campbell’s two goals this season via [ Squawka stats ]

Campbell doesn’t play like a striker, in my opinion, but seems like more of a wide-midfielder/winger. I say this because of his incredible defensive contribution (The best I’ve seen from such a young forward). His willingness to play wherever Pepe Mel wants him to, is a fantastic option for both Betis and Arsenal. Wenger is known for his liking of versatile forwards, and his conversion of them from wingers to centre-forwards. One of the main flaws in Campbell’s game are his final balls and decision making. His upper-body strength, and blistering pace, almost always gives him the upper-hand against most full-backs; the only problem is, once he gets past the full-back, his crossing isn’t always the best. But, that’s part and parcel with learning how to play in an unfamiliar position. Campbell averages a whopping three key defensive actions per-game, which is what an average defensive-midfielder does per-game. The fact he can play on either flank really shows his ambidexterity; he’s able to shoot and pass with either foot. He’s been a vital component in what’s been an overachieving league campaign, for Betis. Despite being in the shadow of players like Ruben Castro and Beñat, his performances for Betis have made the fans, and Mel, warm to him.

Joel Campbell is a young loanee which most clubs would take on board in a heartbeat. It’s hard to find a youngster in this modern generation whose head is screwed on properly, focuses solely on his football and wears his heart on his sleeve for a club which he more-or-less knows he won’t be playing for, come the start of the next season. Campbell’s recent tweet underlined this when he said “At Betis I should, and will, give 110% in every game and training session”. Maybe I’m looking too far into things, but most of Arsenal’s youth players on twitter tweet a lot of garbage that has nothing to do with their footballing careers. Sometimes, they hardly even squeeze in a tweet about football. The generic ‘Nando’s’ and song lyric tweets sometimes makes me think they’re not really interested in football as a whole. Maybe it’s a bit harsh considering it’s their personal account, and they can do what they want, but Joel Campbell’s rare tweets are always about his progression at Betis, and how he’s working hard to hopefully break into the Arsenal team when he’s granted a work permit. Campbell’s very humble and passionate about his football, and that’s a massive trait for any young player to have. He’s never at the centre of media attention.

On the topic of Joel Campbell’s work permit, it’s been said that he needs to play two world cup qualifiers in order to have 75% of it complete. That, plus the vast amount of minutes he’s getting under Pepe Mel at Betis, should see him get granted his work permit and join the Arsenal squad in the Summer.

I think Arsenal have a very promising forward on their hands. It’s hard to pin-point what, exactly, Wenger will do with him once he’s granted his work permit and is able to come to England. He seems a bit too raw to be used as a squad player, but he’d definitely benefit from another loan spell, preferably to a Premier League team, to see how he fairs in England. His end-product could do with some work. He’s not perfect. But, at the age of 20, he’s shown some very impressive signs. I’d like to think he has a very bright future ahead of him at Arsenal because, as mentioned previously, the positive and hard working mentality is there.

— GB1886. It’s good to be able to combine La Liga and Arsenal together into one post, once again.

  1. goonerdave66 says:

    Superb stuff Chris. I will make a point of reading all your stuff going forwards

  2. Sav from Australia says:

    Very informative article. Thanks mate!.

  3. Mister Spruce says:

    Brilliant review of the player that is Joel Campbell. I’ll be watching this space 🙂

  4. […] for this series. (At the time of publishing why that was remained a mystery). Here’s a good column on Campbell courtesy of @swannyArsenalFC on […]

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