Wednesday 20 July 2011

What does Arsenal's failure to sign Joel Campbell tell us?

I woke up this morning to news that in itself is not that upsetting. It appeared on the Sky Sports news ticker. It was something to the tune of 'Arsenal's bid to sign Costa Rica forward Joel Campbell has broken down'.

The 19-year-old was all set for a £930,000 move from Deportivo Saprissa and reports suggested he would be loaned out for a season unless we could secure his work permit immediately. The chances of that seemed remote because Campbell has not played enough full international matches to automatically meet the Home Office's criteria.

But it's all academic now, if Sky Sports are correct and talks between Arsenal and the youngster's representatives have gone pear-shaped.

Saprissa president Juan Carlos Rojas told La Nacion newspaper: "It is a disappointment for football, for Saprissa and for me that they have decided not to take up an offer from as serious and first-class people as Arsenal.

"I hope it works out for Joel.

"I assume his father thinks that things will get better and that's why he made this decision, but, hey, there's always a risk.

"It's a shame that Costa Rican football could not have a player at Arsenal at this time."

I find it a shame and almost feel ashamed that our 'serious and first-class people' can't even conclude a deal with a teenager. We rarely seem to agree deals with anyone nowadays.

We can't even agree deals with our existing players. We could be set to lose Samir Nasri next season for the same reason. We couldn't get Gael Clichy to agree a new deal so he was sold on the cheap to Manchester City. Going back in time, we lost Matthieu Flamini to AC Milan on a free transfer and I've always argued that was a bigger blow to the club than many realised. I've been vindicated somewhat by Matthieu winning Serie A while we've gone on to win nothing at all.

Then there are all the players that seemingly want to come to us but we don't manage to sign for one reason or another. Names like Xabi Alonso come to mind. Then there's Chris Samba.

I can only assume there's something very wrong in our transfer dealings nowadays. Why did the Andrey Arshavin transfer become so protracted? Other Premier League clubs seem to do their business a lot quicker than us.

Was that the case when David Dein was at Arsenal sealing deals? I may be mistaken, but I remember us being quick to snap up players in the Dein days. Dennis Bergkamp springs to mind. That deal was done long before pre-season training began.

Doing deals early makes so much sense. It gives the player time to gel with his new team-mate. Instead of doing that, Arsenal seem to want to cut a last-minute deal just to save a couple of quid. It's a cheap mentality and it's not leading to success on the silverware front, so it's high time the club reconsidered this policy.

Perhaps we need a new David Dein or even the old one back. But that seems highly unlikely unfortunately. As unlikely as Stan 'we don't want that sort' Kroenke joining the board!

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