Joel Campbell CAN NOW secure his work permit in June but will Wenger have him in the squad for 2013/14?

Joel Campbell on target for Betis this season
Joel Campbell on target for Betis this season

So as we reach the end of the International break and before we get back into the rigors of the Premiership and the chase for Champions League places. I have my Arsenal match tickets for the run in but I wanted first to just bring you all up to speed on one of my favourite subjects, which may of you have been asking for an update on. Yes readers for the 3rd time since my blog launched it is ‘Super Joel Campbell’ update time.

In June 2012 I wrote a blog entitled ‘Super Campbell Work permit now a formality, Exclusive and made a fool of myself by not researching thoroughly enjoy.  I had calculated that Campbell had played enough competitive games by last summer to gain a work permit. This was primarily due to the fact that Costa Rica has not had too many competitive fixtures in 2010. Sadly however I missed 4 fixtures Costa Rica plated in the UNCAF Nations Cup in the January of 2011 which had not for some reason appeared on the FIFA site and Joel had played in these having not at that point made his international debut.

I have followed Joel closely in France and Spain since he signed for Arsenal in August 2011 and I am of the view that he is now ready to come back to his parent club Arsenal this summer and play a role in 2013/14.

First of all let’s examine the criteria set down for footballers for the granting of International work permits

Work permits will be issued to international players of the highest calibre who are able to make a significant contribution in footballing terms to the development of the United Kingdom game at the highest level (i.e. clubs competing in the Premier Leagues and Football Leagues in England and Scotland, the Welsh Premier League and the Irish Premier League in Northern Ireland).

Initial applications

To be eligible for a work permit:

  • a player must have played for his country in at least 75% of its competitive ‘A’ team matches he was available for selection, during the two years preceding the date of the application; and
  • The player’s country must be at or above 70th place in the official FIFA world rankings when averaged over the two years preceding the date of the application.

Competitive matches

The definition of a competitive ‘A’ team international match is a:

  • World Cup Finals game;
  • World Cup Qualifying group game; and
  • Football Association confederation tournament game, for example:
    • The FIFA Confederations Cup;
    • The UEFA European Championships and Qualifiers;
    • The African Cup of Nations and Qualifiers;
    • The Asia Nations Cup and Qualifiers;
    • The CONCACAF Gold Cup;
    • The CONCACAF The Copa Caribe;
    • The CONMEBOL Copa America;
    • The OFC Nations Cup and
    • The UNCAF Nations Cup

I have emboldened the competitions in which Costa Rica could conceivably compete.

This of course has to be evidenced by the applying club as detailed below:

International appearances

Prior to submitting an application, clubs should provide written confirmation of the player’s international appearance record over the preceding two years highlighting the competitive ‘A’ matches. This should be obtained from the player’s home association. The sports and entertainments team, UK Border Agency, will be unable to make a decision on the application until written evidence is provided. If any evidence submitted needs verifying, the sports and entertainments team, UK Border Agency, will liaise with other parties and verify all information through all available sources, if necessary.

So first and foremost we need to update the exact position on Joel Campbell as the end of his current loan contract with Real Betis will be almost exactly 2 years from his international debut for Coast Rica on the 5th June 2011. Campbell has 22 full caps now and 7 goals for his country and is still 3 months short of his 21st birthday but as we have established the key is which of his caps were in Competitive A games.

Date of International Fixture Competition Campbell Y/N
June 5th Cuba (H) Gold Cup Y
June 9th El Salvador (H) Gold Cup Y
June 12th Mexico (A) Gold Cup N
June 18th Honduras (H) Gold Cup Y
July 2nd Colombia (A) Copa America Y
July 7th Bolivia (A) Copa America Y
July 11th Argentina (A) Copa America Y
June 8th El Salvador (H) World Cup Qualifier Y
June 12th Guyana (A) World Cup Qualifier Y
September  7th Mexico (H) World Cup Qualifier Y
September 11th Mexico (A) World Cup Qualifier Y
October 12th El Salvador (A) World Cup Qualifier N
October 16th Guyana (H) World Cup Qualifier Y
February 6th Panama (A) World Cup Qualifier Y
March 22nd USA (A) World Cup Qualifier Y
March 26th Jamaica (H) World Cup Qualifier Y


So what does the above mean for Campbell?

Well in short since his international debut Joel Campbell has played in 14 of the 16 competitive games Costa Rica have played. This for the mathematicians among you equated to 87.5% of the games. So provided Costa Rica are in the top 70 in the Fifa World rankings should Arsenal apply for a permit when Joel completes his loan on the 30th June it will be granted. Costa Rica, with Campbell’s help have climbed ten or so places in the rankings and are currently the 53rd ranked team.

To ensure completion we should consider futures competitive internationals for Costa Rica between now and the end of his Betis loan in June. Costa Rica will play 3 World Cup qualifiers in June in an 11 day period. These are Honduras at home on the 7th, Mexico away on the 11th and finally Panama at home on the 18th. In short we need Joel to play in only one of the games to stay above the 75%. Indeed is he plays in all 3 as seems likely the first 3 games from June 2011 will fall out of the calculation, one of which he did not feature in and he would move to 15/16 from 18th June 2011 to 18th June 2013. Bottom line is that it truly is now a formality.

On target frequently for Costa Rica
On target frequently for Costa Rica

The next question then has to be will Arsene Wenger decide that Joel Campbell is strong enough to feature in our first team squad in 2013/14 or will he opt this time for a further perhaps shorter loan, this time in the EPL? My gut reaction is that Campbell is more than good enough having spent all season virtually pushing a low budget Real Betis side toward European football. I however have always been keen and have written about him on this site twice before so I thought I would seek the view of another writer who watched far more Spanish football than I. I am delighted to welcome Chris Moar known to many on twitter as @GB1886. The GB comes from his excellent website Gunners and Bees which covers Arsenal and La Liga with equal passion and originality. Over to Chris….

Joel Campbell is a player whose stats don’t tell the full story on how influential he can be throughout a game. Campbell is a constant thorn in the opposition’s half; whether he’s chasing 40-yard balls down, drawing free-kicks or looking to interchange with Ruben Castro – Betis’ usual centre-forward. Campbell is usually deployed on either flank as a winger or wide-midfielder. The Betis fans have warmed to him because of his positive mentality on the pitch and his quiet nature off it. Of course, there are slight problems with his overall game, especially his final ball.

Campbell would be a brilliant asset for Arsenal, should he be granted a work permit in the summer. With many saying that Arsenal should play a 4-4-2 or a 4-4-1-1, Campbell would thrive from this formation. We shouldn’t accommodate a young player by adjusting our whole system, but with the possible inclusion of someone like Jovetic in the summer, who can play in the hole, the 4-4-1-1 seems a possible tactical option for Wenger. Campbell would play as the wide-midfielder, and he’d give his full-back a lot of defensive support. His ball retention and tackling makes me think he isn’t cut out to be your everyday out-and-out striker; he offers a lot more to the general play in a wider position. Although having said that, his versatility could come in handy. Should Arsenal be thin on the centre-forward front I have no doubt Joel could fill in. I don’t think Campbell should be loaned out again next season, although many seem to believe otherwise. He could prove to be a very vital and versatile player to have off the bench if we need a goal or need to hang on to a narrow lead. He could learn a lot from finally being at his prestigious parent club (not a dig at Lorient or Betis in the slightest). If we offload Bendtner, Park and Chamakh then Campbell should definitely be kept as a squad player. If we don’t, then I’m sure we’ll see him move out on loan to a premier league club. 

Thanks Chris, great to have a view from someone who has watched Joel all season. From what I have seen I tend to agree. He plays predominantly for Betis in the wide right role primarily occupied by Walcott for Arsenal. His final pass/decision making I would  suggest is where Theo’s  was at the same age 3 years back but he certainly has far more discipline than Theo did at 20/21. His defensive work and fitness are superb and I would certainly rank him higher than Oxlade-Chamberlain or Walcott in that department. The success Betis have enjoyed this season has not been down to their prolific scoring but more down to a superb defensive record, against all barring the very top sides, and the whole team including Joel can take huge credit for that. Campbell’s work rate and fitness are fabulous but please don’t think he will not be asset in attack. He has a freer role for Costa Rica and plays more centrally and has a healthy return of about 1 in 3 at full international level. 7 in 22 is none to0 shabby for a young talent not yet 21.

Back at Arsenal in July for Pre-Season?
Back at Arsenal in July for Pre-Season?

It will be interesting to see how Betis finish the season and the role Joel has to play. They are currently lying in 7th one point of Malaga in 6th, which is a Europa League place and 4 points of 4th a Champions League spot. As it happens both Madrid sides are in the Copa Del Rey Final and will finish in the top 4 it seems so 7th will be good enough for Europe. They have a huge game on the 21st April away at Real Madrid. I am sure it will be on Sky so make a point of checking JC out against the very best or even take a trip out to the Bernabaeu. Astonishingly Tickets for Real Madrid available from £62 only to see a future Arsenal star in the flesh.

Much was made a few weeks ago about Joel wishing to stay at Betis for European football and how he felt at home there. There has also been quotes from the Betis coach Pepe Mel about wishing to retain Joel’s services for another year.  However it was this quote from Joel that obviously made the bash Arsenal headlines:

“I feel very comfortable and have identified with the team and people of Betis. I love the city, and if I have to stay I am available. Hopefully we will be in Europe too.”

The following line from the quote did not make the headline:

He continued: “I do not deny that I would love to show what I have in a team like Arsenal.”

Regardless of what Mel, Betis or the press say or think this one is down to one man. Arsene it’s over to you……..


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  1. Thanks for the update, Dave. This is fantastic news. From what I’ve seen of him for Betis & Costa Rica, I think he’ll be able to cope with the rigours of the PL. Would love to see him in Pre season for us in Asia, that’ll be the springboard. When you think of the plethora of talent emerging through our academy too, I’m optimistic that we’ll do better next season.

  2. I cant see why not. Except that Wenger only has the one formation which means just the one central striker. So I hope the lad will be OK on the left wing for 20 minutes here and there ?

  3. Excellent article, very thorough! I sincerely hope that young Campbell turns out to be worth it, Dick Law missed out on Mata chasing the kid’s signature.

  4. Great update! It’s a hard job to manage young talent against the needs of the club. We still need a big time international striker to compete next year. But it sounds like JC gives us depth on the wings. We don’t have a natural sub for Theo on the right so he might be perfect for us next year.

  5. superbly written, as u have mentioned yourself this is the third time about Joel. Hope he fulfill the potential hes got.

  6. i think campbell could do for us what paulo wanchope did when he arrived in the uk. ok i know they are ifferent types of players but he is quick and certainly digs in. i would certainly have him as an attacking option. we fould have walcott campbell giroud podolski ryo chamberlain and hopefully jovetic. though i can see chamberlain becoming the understudy to cazorla next season instead of rosicky. a decen6 squad of 3 keepers 9 defenders 7 midfielders and 7 forwards is what i want to see.

  7. will be a welcome addition and would certainly give us more options coming off the bench , considering arshavin won’t be no more, i says bring him in already !

  8. ‘Of course, there are slight problems with his overall game, especially his final ball.’ and you think he would be a great asset to Arsenal, sounds like another deadwood signing in the guile of Diaby or Gervinho. We need proven quality players not the so called delusions of Wenger, this is exactly why next season will be the same as it has been for eight years. Nothing will changed until Wenger goes, another season of lies, false promises and spin from the despot Wenger

    1. I guess there is some warped logic in there. I assume you wanted Walcott licked out as well based on that logic. This guys has close to 30 internationals under his belt and is a a regular in a side near top pf La Liga, a fa more technical league than the EPL. He will be fine if called upon.

  9. How come my post regarding your facts might be wrong again does not come online ? Is it because I link to the site where I have the more accurate details ?

      1. I think I know why now, when adding a link in the website field, the post will just disappear instead of awaiting moderation :-/

      2. Thanks. Annoying that these games did not appear on site. One would hope even with these if he plays next 3 he would be 15 from 21. Not likely to be turned down if indeed Wenger decides he wants him

  10. Well I wrote yesterday that it might not be happening anyway, because again Costa Rica played Copa Centroamericana in January 2013 and won the tournament playing 5 games WITHOUT Joel Campbell and that competition was formerly known as UNCAF Nations Cup ( and as far as I understand counting in this calculation, meaning that he is only at 66,7% now and can maximum reach 70% on June 18, 2013 before dropping again due to games 2 years ago falls out again. I did the research back in February and posted it here as a comment
    So it looks like it is going to take a looong time before he can get an automatic work permit and that is probably why there are so much talks of him staying with Betis 🙁

  11. I do not believe for one minute that Joel Campbell had to go out on loan when he was first bought at all. Chicharito Hernandez at Man U did not go through this rigmarole, when he was in the same position as Campbell. I think Fergie has more sway with people in high places because he is tough, gets results, his record inside the game and his standing both in and out of the game. I think the Wenger of 97-04 would not have had this problem, but his mentality has changed since and so has the mentality of people he comes into contact with. His biggest mistake was to change Arsenals philosophy, physicality and mentality on how to play football. It wasn’t broke so why fix it?. All he had to do was replace like with like. He failed in that. No new Wright, No new Adams, Keown, Winterburn, Dixon, Bould, Parlour,Overmars, Bergkamp, Petit, Vieira, Henry. The players that have come in are simply just not good enough. RVP should have had someone alongsides him who can guarantee at least 20 goals per season. We were linked with Defoe, who is a 20 goals a season man in the right team, but never bought him. We sold Adebayor & kept Bendtner. whether or not you like Adebayor, he scores goals. We should have had Cahill & Samba to plug our defence, but Wenger ignores them. He ignored Zaha, Young, Mata, Hazard, Remy, Mvila. I believe that Wenger really does not want Arsenal to be successful. The passion seems to have left the man. Real passion for the club i wanting to win the prem, fa, carling and ucl, not settling for the also ran position, which for the best part of 10 years is what we have been doing. I believe that now that it has been forced onto Arsenal fans, this REALLY (2013-14) will be his LAST season with Arsenal. I feel that he knows that if he messes up, there will be no hiding place for him or the board. Compete on a higher level or leave the job to somebody who understands what that means. The premiership, or perhaps as I should rename it, “The Manchester United cup, which we sometimes loan to other clubs cup”, has become stale. Arsenal seemed like the only team pre Abramovich and Khaldoun who were capable of challenging Man U for the title. Which goes to show that despite all the billions spent, there is no substitute for a tough as nails boss, with a go hard or go home mentality. It is time for Wenger to produce or leave. No more excuses. We want your blood if you fail.

    1. Sounds like you’re assuming people in the game are forming opinions on him based on media stories and fan frustration. Unlikely. He’s been offered Bayern, Real, Barca, Juve and PSG in recent years. Clearly people in the know still rate him as highly as ever

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