Arsene Wenger admits Joel Campbell’s form will soon give him a selection headache as he welcomes a host of Arsenal players back.
The Costa Rica international has impressed in recent weeks, having been given his longest stint in the Gunners’ side with the likes of Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Aaron Ramsey injured.
The 23-year-old marked his first Premier League start with a goal in north London club’s the 3-0 win at Swansea and has also featured heavily in the Champions League, playing his part in Tuesday night’s victory over Dinamo Zagreb.
Campbell joined Arsenal in 2011 but has largely spent his time out on loan, continuing his progression with spells at Lorient, Real Betis, Olympiacos and Villarreal.
That has helped shape him into a player able of competing for a place in the side, with Wenger praising Campbell’s recent spell having decided to keep him at the Emirates Stadium this season.
“Of course, you’re right,” the Arsenal boss replied when asked whether Campbell will provide a selection dilemma once everyone is fit.
“At the end of the day, you decide what’s best for the team. Ramsey is coming back, of course, Alexis Sanchez being there, but it’s good to move Ramsey inside during a game and give Campbell the opportunity as well.
“This season I didn’t want to give him out because he has a genuine team attitude and he’s a fighter.
“What you want from him is to bring more offensively when he played and recently he has shown when he is confident he can produce the offensive quality as well being reliable on the team attitude.
“He’s a fighter so that’s great for us. I smelt something with him that is very interesting.
“The other night he has a positive attitude, he was not only playing safe.”
Wenger knows Campbell may be frustrated if he is dropped to the bench when other options return, but says that is part and parcel of playing for a team challenging for honours and does not intend to let him leave in January if any offers come in.
“If you want to be in a top club today, you have to accept this competition,” he said. “Everybody wants to be a regular. I think he can become one..
“What is interesting for us is he adds some creativity in his passing and his vision.
“He has power and is not scared to put his foot in. He’s creative. I could see that but the creativity is linked with the confidence.
“You open your eyes when you feel really free to take the initiative. That was a bit of his problem.
“I’m very keen to keep him here. A guy who comes here very young from Costa Rica, he has a learning process to the competition.
“Week in, week out to fight every week. He went to Lorient, Olympiacos and Villarreal and he has learned how hard life is at the top level. Now he is ready and he is still young.”